The VW 39 'Pretzel Beetle' prototype was a Porsche pre-production

Of the 14 built, only this example still lives

Nicknamed the "Pretzel Beetle" because of its unique rear split-window shape, the VW 39 prototype is a unique and extremely rare piece of Porsche and Volkswagen history. Ferdinand Porsche designed the car as a pre-series test vehicle, and for the super-limited run of 14 examples, the Zuffenhausen plant used new-for-the-time high-tech machine tools during production. This car is the only one that remains, and it now sits restored and protected in the Hamburg Prototype Museum.

Porsche doesn't detail exactly what Ferdinand was trying to do with these prototypes, but there's one thing that's certain: They did not have the same performance as normal Beetles of the time. Porsche mentions that numerous powerplants were tried, but at least one example was fitted with a Type 64 engine, which was designed for the Berlin-to-Rome race car (seen at 6:23 in the video). That engine produced almost 32 horsepower and helped the Beetle reach a top speed of about 90 miles per hour.

These cars, which only weighed slightly more than 1,500 pounds, were important in the development of Porsche and VW production, because parts such as the wings and curved hood were made using a body press. This method was later adopted permanently. Originally, the plan was to build 50 of these vehicles, but war production took priority.

According to Porsche, Ferdinand and his son used to frequently drive the Type 39 between the Zuffenhausen production facility, Berlin, and the under-construction Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg. This exact model, chassis No. 1-00003 was eventually sent to the German Labor Front headquarter in Berlin, where Porsche assumes it was displayed.

Unfortunately, that area was hit during the war, and the car was damaged beneath rubble. It was retrieved in 1948 and sold to a Hamburg collector who did his best to keep it alive. Around 2014, Hamburg Prototype Museum founders Thomas K├Ânig and Oliver Schmidt took ownership and have restored it to Nitro Black glory. Check out the video from 9:11 Magazine up above and the image gallery down below.

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