in

I like itI like it

The ill-fated case of the 356 four-seater with the Porsche Beutler

In 1951 Porsche itself tested a real four-seater 356. It was called Type 530 and was left in the prototype phase displaced by the interest of the brand in developing a commission made by Studebaker. However, the possibility of a first Porsche 2 + 2 remained in the air, leading to a very short series by the Swiss bodybuilder Beutler in 1957. A creation that ended up in the lurch not because of pessimistic market studies but because of a lack of understanding. between Porsche and Beutler when it comes to marketing the model.

Today it is completely normal to see Porsche models with four seats. In fact, even with five doors like the Panamera or the Cayenne. Nevertheless, only with the diversification of its range from the seventies began to see creations where sportsmanship was reconciled with a practical 2 + 2 scheme. And not because it wasn't tried before. Something that may be squeaky to the most purists. Those who are surprised by the history of a Porsche rehearsing the possibility of building a real four-seater since the fifties.

In that sense, the best and best known example is that of 530 1951 Type. A prototype commanded by Ferry Porsche himself to two engineers from the house plus a person in charge of the Reutter bodywork. All this to create "as fast as possible" a 2 + 2 variant of the 356 extending the wheelbase to 2 meters. Something that enlarged the cabin. Demanding a new resolute body with a greater extension of the doors and a fall of the rear that almost looks like that of a three volume. But nevertheless, the project was canceled despite the fact that in just a few months the Type 530 was already in the rolling prototype phase.

As causes are unfavorable market studies. Indicating that linking the sporty 356 with a sedan variant would not have sales travel. Just what happened to Alpine with its 110 A4 GT1966. Anyway, The main reason was that Porsche preferred to focus on the development of the Type 542. The rear-engined saloon commissioned by Studebaker to try to conquer the American market with the extra exoticism provided by a design signed by the Stuttgart sports brand. An idea that, still reaching a prototype, was rejected in 1956 by John DeLorean himself.

Another of Porsche's business ventures as an external consultant. Which did not completely erase that idea materialized in the Type 530. Of course, knowing that for the moment its success was in the competition - after the magnificent Porsche Motorsport premiere in 1951- and the production of the 356 two-seater. Thus, the brand's next attempt to create a 2 + 2 model was made externally. Supporting, but not participating directly, in the production of the Porsche Beutler 1600.

PORSCHE BEUTLER 1600, AT LAST, A 356 2 + 2 HITS THE MARKET

Founded by Swiss brothers Fritz and Ernst Beutler, the small Beutler coachbuilder used the 356 as their preferred base to work from. Thus, his first notable creation was a convertible variant of the 356 presented in Porsche's own space during the 1949 Geneva Motor Show. A real accolade for his work. Counting from that moment on with the Stuttgart brand for the supply of chassis and mechanics. Treating Beutler as an independent company but a partner at the same time. Just the way FIAT did for Abarth.

At this point, the Beutler brothers were consolidating their workshop during the XNUMXs as an artisan reference in customized Porsche units. Activity that they combined with propose to Porsche the production of new models in short run. Precisely the case of the Porsche Beutler 1600. With which the possibility of producing a 530 356 + 2 was recovered a few years after the cancellation of the Type 2. This time in a short run and by an external brand. Endowed, yes, with all the material and commercial support from the official house.

In this way, Porsche provided Beutler with various 356A chassis with the requirement that the design to be made by the Swiss brothers could be related to their brand image at a glance. Something that tells us about him attempt to create an external model but at the same time it could be assumed by Porsche itself. Condition that the Swiss bodywork complied with the Porsche Beutler 1600. Presented at the 1957 Geneva Motor Show with the approval of the official house after having built two functional prototypes with the mechanics of the 356A.

A COMMERCIAL DISPUTE THAT ENDED THE PORSCHE BEUTLER

One of the characteristics of every small business is the possibility of giving a personal treatment to each client. A way of working shared by Beutler, which treated each Porsche customer who passed through its workshops in Switzerland individually. Thanks to that, the circulation of their models was brief but highly valued. Enjoying managed maintenance in detail in the way and way that a large mass production company could never do. A point where disputes began that ended with the Porsche Beutler shortly after its presentation.

And it is that, after the success obtained in the Geneva Motor Show, Porsche gave the green light to Beutler for the manufacture of the 2 + 2 model. However, at this point they had to negotiate how to go about marketing. While Porsche wanted to do it through its dealers - on a large scale - the Swiss brothers wanted to do it in their workshop - on a small scale. Two antagonistic models when operating in the market, arising a dispute that ended with the refusal of Porsche to supply more chassis and mechanics to Beutler.

Therefore, the production of the Porsche Beutler ended after five units, although some sources claim that there were six. A variable data that contrasts with the assurance that, today, only three of them are preserved. All of them with 1-liter mechanics from the 6B in its 356CV variant. Not far from the 85CV of the 1600 Carrera GT. Although enough for a model that did not seek so much sportiness as exclusivity and pleasant handling on short trips with leisure as the flag. Anyway, it really would have been interesting to see how this first Porsche 2 + 2 would have been handled in the market. As short as it was.

Photographs: Beutler / Gooding & Company

P.D. The unit chosen to illustrate part of this article is the last one that has been auctioned for the Porsche Beutler. Specifically, it was offered last 2020 at the Amelia Island auctions for Gooding & Company.

What do you think?

Miguel Sánchez

Written by Miguel Sánchez

Through the news from La Escudería, we will travel the winding roads of Maranello listening to the roar of the Italian V12; We will travel Route66 in search of the power of the great American engines; we will get lost in the narrow English lanes tracking the elegance of their sports cars; We will speed up the braking in the curves of the Monte Carlo Rally and we will even get dusty in a garage while rescuing lost jewels.

Comments

Subscribe to the newsletter

Once a month in your mail.

Thanks a lot! Do not forget to confirm your subscription through the email that we have just sent you.

Something has gone wrong. Please try again.

51.1 kHappy fans
1.7 kFollowers
2.4 kFollowers
3.2 kFollowers