Porsche

The Glockler-Porsche 356: A Progenitor of Greatness

Silver 1954 Porsche Glockler coupe at an auto show.

Walter Glöckler, a motorcycle racer and car dealer based in Frankfurt, Germany, was an early adopter of the Porsche, and his curiosity about their potential led to countless hours of tinkering.

When the first 356 rolled off the manufacturing line in 1948 in Gmünd, Glöckler assembled six race cars from Porsche and Volkswagen parts, all with hand-hammered aluminum bodies, and weighing in at less than 1,000 pounds. Glöckler’s race cars began winning under-1,000cc races across Germany, thanks to his unique artisanship that improved upon Porsche’s design.

In Glöckler’s hay day, Porsche was focused on survival, with no time or means to compete on the racing circuit, yet the Zuffenhausen engineers were intrigued by Glöckler’s efforts and lent him their full support. By the 1950s, Porsche had become financially stable enough to produce a race car. Glöckler’s cousin Helm entered Le Mans driving Porsche’s racer, the 550 Spyder, which had borrowed heavily from Glöckler’s early designs.

Early Glöckler-Porsche models were considered eccentric in appearance, resembling bathtubs, with little pillbox bunkers to accommodate drivers. Later models included features such as wheel spats on all four corners, small chrome grills on the front, and upright headlights. While these cars never met with great success on the racing circuit nor resemble the models from which they were inspired, they would be invaluable today in the hands of collectors.

Love for the Porsche 356 Coupe Endures

Glöckler’s seventh model was designed as a competitor for the 1954 Mille Miglia, a car considered sleek and beautiful. Glöckler’s design lacked the Miglia’s finesse, with a panoramic window split down the center, wheel arches cut into the bodywork, and vertical headlights, including a third one placed in the center. The window frames were misaligned, a door was cut into the roof, and tailfins were added, thanks to the Cadillac craze of the day. The engine, provided by Porsche engineer Ernst Fuhrmann, was a Type 547 quad-cam from the 550 Spyder, the same engine that would eventually support the 356 Carrera.

Production delays meant the Glöckler-Porsche 356 Coupe missed the starting lineup at Brescia but was able to compete at the demanding Liège-Rome-Liège rally where it limped to the finish line due to technical failure. That Coupe was sold privately as recently as two years ago. It now travels to car shows worldwide, where it delights Porsche connoisseurs, surprised to see the Porsche badge above the third headlight on something otherwise distinctly un-Porsche-like.

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