Estimated at €850,000-1,000,000, this pre-production Porsche 901 Cabriolet prototype will head under the hammer at RM Sotheby’s 8 February Paris auction.
RM Sotheby’s has announced a number of highlights for next year’s Paris auction, starting with one particularly special piece of Porsche 911 history. This isn’t any ordinary 911, but an original one-off 901 Cabriolet prototype built by Karmann carrying an estimate of €850,000-€1,000,000.
The Porsche 901 is an exceptionally rare car in its own right. After it was unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor show in September 1963, just 82 were built before Peugeot’s lawyers stepped in. Peugeot took exception to the name, claiming that it had a registered trademark on three digit names with a zero in the middle.
Porsche simply changed the car’s the name to 911 – which has served well ever since – and it’s thought that there are only around 30 901s remaining in the world. Just two pre-production cars exist, this Cabriolet, and a slightly older Coupe, making this car the second oldest 901/911 chassis in the world.
The company had a history of producing soft-top cars, and Porsche’s marketing department pushed for a cabriolet model of the new 901. Coachbuilder Karmann was commissioned to produce a prototype. When Porsche’s engineers evaluated the car, it was deemed too flexible and not viable due to the weight penalty of the extra strengthening. In the end, the compromise was the Targa, until the use of high-tensile steel allowed the production of a full Cabriolet model in 1981.
Offered in exceptionally original shape, it’s fair to say that this 901 is rough and ready condition. It is in fully working order though, and was recently driven for Octane magazine's November 2015 issue. It looks a little odd with no roof to speak of – the original soft-top has been lost over the years – and the side windows are perspex.