Meet Porsche’s 911 Hot Rod Guinea Pig

But would you pay $295k for this sexy German experiment?

Porsche 911 Prototype
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Here’s an ultimate test of vintage Porsche 911 hype: a $295k, 1966 development prototype with a stripped interior and tailpipes slightly askew. Is this car, a factory experiment, really worth more than two brand-new Porsche GT3s? Is this pretty testbed, with a passenger seat that looks like it has been stolen from behind a grade school classroom desk [but is actually from a Porsche 904], twice as valuable as a car with four-wheel steering and a 9,000-rpm redline? Well, yes. This car is how the first generation Porsche 911 grew up.

In 1964, the 911 debuted as a whippet of a car, with thin hips, a short wheelbase and wee steel wheels. The six-cylinder engine was more powerful than the 356’s four-cylinder, but still mustered only 128 horsepower. As the decade wore on, and the 911 embedded itself in competition, Porsche began to tweak and prod the car from graceful to growly. 911s got wider fenders, bigger wheels, stronger motors and better aero. First, though, Porsche naturally had to test the various new components.

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This particular 911, built in 1966, was issued a “Werks” (factory) VIN then plopped into a Zuffenhausen garage where it was used to train factory mechanics and test the installation of new components. They equipped the car with fender flares—from a 911R race car—and, strangely, a sunroof. The engine, a 1968 2.0-liter with 906 cams and Weber carburetors, has a racing-style exhaust with straight pipes; the wheels are an early version of the now-classic, five-spoke Fuchs. Elephant skin, yes, covers the driver’s seat, pulled straight from a 911R. Similarly, the external-fill fuel tank also comes from a 911R. However you look at it, this particular 911 is the ultimate customization: a rat-rod Porsche built in-house.

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In sum, this prototype looks as good as any first-generation Porsche 911, but with a few nicks and rough edges that mark its hard-lived past. It sacrificed prettiness in service of all 911s to follow. For the detail-oriented Porsche fanatic, the JDM-style rearview mirror on the front fender and unfinished, protuberant exhaust pipes will represent the ultimate badges of rarity, almost proving that this stripped-out sports car has been hooned since day one.

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Yes, Jerry Seinfeld just unloaded millions of dollars in old Porsches in some misguided winnowing, but this is the 911 to turn a man’s head away from sense and rationale. It’s history, beauty, speed and sex appeal, a collector’s item without the varnish. $295k? Yes, please.