The Type 64—commonly cited as being the first Porsche ever made even though it actually technically isn’t a Porsche-branded car, proper—is as important as it is iconic. A strange little vehicle somewhere in between a Volkswagen and the Porsches we’ve come to know and love, the Type 64 is history on four wheels. And Top Gear’s Chris Harris has gotten behind its wheel to give us all an inside look into how it actually functions.
I’m not going to say anything, aside from the fact that you just need to take thirteen minutes out of your day to witness something that is not just a video, but an experience. Get ready to get goosebumps.
Harris starts off with a little history before discussing the design cues of the car. It was designed by Ferdinand Porsche, godfather of the Volkswagen Beetle and his own eventual brand of cars, in 1939.
The Type 64 unmistakably holds traces of the Porsche evolution in its frame: its streamlined shape, recessed headlights, and prizing of elegant construction over size or capacity are the precursors for decades of automotive design. We’ve done a deep dive into the history and mechanics of this incredible machine before, and it’s definitely worth a read.
As Harris says in the video, “it is a bar of soap, isn’t it?” You can’t really argue otherwise.
Things really get interesting when Harris actually climbs in and starts driving, though. The Type 64's pedals are canted to the right due to the placement of the fuel tank and pushed forward because of the battery, and it has a wheel as throttle pedal. That makes for a, uh, very strange experience of driving the thing. You can definitely tell this car was intended as an experiment because a lot of these designs didn’t filter into subsequent generations of Porsches.
I have to say, seeing that thing actually take off and start cruising down the road is pretty magical. The Type 64 just looks like it’s slipping through the air.
Harris describes it as light, agile, and faster than its meager 32 horsepower implies. It also sounds like a way more tactile driving experience than we’re used to today. The engine is visible from the driver’s seat, which means you can feel, hear, and smell it doing its thing as you cruise around.
I can’t do it justice, but Harris practically spins poetry when he gets behind the wheel. It’s a video you cannot miss.