At first glance it might look like some sort of coachbuilt Italian machine, but underneath this car is all Porsche 356, and the sumptuous body on top is the work of the Beutler brothers out of Thun, Switzerland. While this car dates from 1959, Porsche’s relationship to Ernst and Fritz Beutler goes back to the carmaker’s humble beginnings in Gmünd, Austria in the late 1940s. When Porsche was looking for someone to do the bodies for the soft-top version of the 356/2 in 1949, they chose Carrosserie Beutler, who had only set up shop two years before. The relationship was short-lived and only yielded a batch of six Beutler-bodied Porsches but, almost ten years later, the Swiss coachbuilder’s ties with Porsche and Porsches started getting closer once more. At Geneva in 1957 Beutler introduced their idea of a four-seater Porsche, using both Porsche and Volkswagen components. From 1957, they built a few such four-passenger Porsches on special order for wealthy clients.
Any Beutler-associated Porsche is a rare quirk for fans of either company, but this car is particularly special because it is reportedly the only Beutler-Porsche aluminum cabriolet. Combining 356A mechanicals with an aluminum body that took eight weeks to complete the Pur Sang (Pure Blood), as it came to be known, was built for nobleman Carl of Württemberg. While some other Beutler-Porshes used a Volkswagen pan because of its longer wheelbase, the Pur Sang used Württemberg’s 356A chassis, which was stretched under the supervision of Porsche’s design boss, Erwin Komenda. The interior would be familiar to a 356 owner, but the metallic blue body, trim and back seats that Beutler provided made Württemberg’s 356 look like a completely different and much prettier car. The aristocratic Porsche remained in Germany for a while before passing through several American hands. At one time, it could even be seen on the streets of San Francisco with Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick at the wheel. Restored in 1996, the Pur Sang has made the rounds of classic car venues and is now up for sale through Road Scholars in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Not long after this car was built, Komenda informed Beutler that their other cars would have to look less distinctive, less Beutler, and more Porsche. As a result, the remaining handful of Beutler-Porsche 356s featured noses and bodies that looked less like the ones on cars like the Pur Sang and and more like sedated 356s. In other words, they looked worse. What this car represents, then, is an opportunity to acquire this fascinating footnote from Porsche’s history that is also a car both one-of-a-kind and absolutely gorgeous. The only cabriolet, it might be the very best-looking of the Beutler-Porsches as well, although there is a yellow coupe dating from 1958 out there that comes quite close. Regardless, this car is for sale now and there certainly won’t be another one coming along.
Check out the 1959 Beutler-Porsche 356A at Road Scholars in Raleigh, North Carolina.