It feels like there’s a sort of unspoken competition in the classic car auction world to see who can sell the strangest thing powered by a Porsche 356 engine. Sunday we saw the incredible Porsche 356-powered (well, originally) motorhome being offered up by Mecum Auctions, and now RM Sotheby’s has decided to meet the challenge with this astounding-looking 1953 Porsche 356 stretch limousine. It’s a wonderful time to be a very wealthy fetishist for Porsche 356-based freaks.
The limo is part of the Taj Ma Garaj collection, which was an event space in Dayton, Ohio owned by John Dixon, who filled it with a fascinating and odd collection of Porsche and Volkswagen cars, mostly. Interestingly, the facility was once home to Dayton Reliable Tool, the company that invented the pop-top aluminum can.
Dixon’s entire collection is being put up for auction on September 28th in Ohio, and this limo is just one interesting selection from it.
But it’s a hell of a thing. I think the Porsche limousine looks amazing, something like what I’d imagine a love-child born of the hot, sweaty union of a Porsche 356 and a Stout Scarab might look like. The Porsche Limo is based on a 1953 “pre-A” 356, but there’s not a lot of information about when and who converted it into the stretch limo seen today.
Looking carefully at the limo, there’s a lot of interesting period details. Look just above and you can see in the B-pillar there are semaphore indicators, but the car also has blinking light ones as well, which seem to be controlled from this period-correct aftermarket blinking indicator accessory setup:
There’s also this rarely-seen pre-A radio blanking plate with a false gauge:
Was that a factory thing? So far, I haven’t been able to confirm.
The interior is handled in a really lovely way, with the divider between the driver and passenger compartments becoming a little bar, and with a centrally-mounted clock and side-mounted thermometer. There’s lots of legroom, and some footrests as well, all slathered in peanut-butter brown leather and carpet.
Here’s a closeup of that thermometer:
There’s more luggage accommodation than you’d guess, too, but unlike most limos, it’s divided up into three areas:
First, the traditional 356 front trunk, here nicely carpeted and with the spare wheel deleted.
Then there’s a good-sized area behind the rear seats, on top of the speaker box.
And if there’s anything left over, you can just tie it to the back on the luggage rack. Unless it’s a dog carrier, then don’t.
While it’s not clear who actually did the conversion, there is a Reutter badge on the car, but I’m not sure if I actually believe this was a Reutter conversion. The quality is certainly high enough, but I have a hunch this was done sometime later than a contemporary conversion by Reutter is likely to have done.
Of course, in this era, Reutter was the one building the Porsche bodies, so it’s not like that badge is out of place, or anything. They definitely built the original body, I’m just not certain they stretched it.
There’s also a dealer badge on the engine lid from Sonauto, the French distributor of Porsches back in the day.
Perhaps the conversion was done in France?
The soft-top sunroof appears to have been cut out of a pre-’64 Volkswagen Beetle, and it fits very well in here. What’s the point of a limo if you can’t drunkenly stand up with your upper body out of the sunroof, screaming idiotic things and spilling champagne?
Mechanically, there’s a twin-carb Porsche 356 engine, I’m guessing a 1500.
The fan shroud appears to be a later one, and I suspect it’s been rebuilt at least once, but the engine has a real Porsche engine number, so it’s not a later modified VW engine or anything like that.
While I’m certain this is the sort of thing that makes insufferable Porsche purists rage-wet their pants, that’s just part of the appeal of this glorious, long stretched bit of madness. I bet, as far as limousines go, it’s pretty fun to drive, too.
There’s no reserve in the auction, but RM Sotheby’s guides it at $150,000-$250,000 or so. I’m sure one of you reading this is in the market for a nice classic rear-engined, air-cooled limousine that will fit into your strangely low-ceiling garage, right?
Here’s your chance!