Members may remember my earlier rantings over Glöckler-Porsches, for it was from Glöckler’s innovations (and their huge success in racing) that Porsche themselves decided the time was overdue for the first 550 to be launched, and they slavishly copied a great deal of what Walter Glöckler had designed. Realising that a mid-engine layout was key to future glory, Porsche’s thinking led to Project 550, a new chassis programme executed by Wilhelm Hild.
The aim was to prepare two cars for the 24 Heures du Mans. The first prototype used a 356 1500 Super engine that was positioned between the driver and rear axle. This was supported by a simple ladder-frame and utilised 356 suspension. Clad in roadster format, the first 550 debuted at the Nürburgring piloted by Helm Glöckler and won its class.
For Le Mans, the first 550 and a second car were fitted as coupès, the bodies designed by Erwin Komenda. Though unbelievably hot and noisy, with tin tops they were better suited to the high-speed straights at Le Sarthe. Drivers Richard Frankenberg and Paul Frère finished 15th overall, just ahead of Helm Glöckler [that name again] and Hans Herrmann in the second car. This gave the coupès both first and second in class.
In late 1953, Porsche showcased a more definitive version of the 550 with a four-cam engine and simple roadster bodywork. Despite these upgrades, the coupès were retained by the factory to contest the Carrera Panamericana, and driven by Jose Herrarte and Jaroslav Juhan to victory in the 1500cc class.
After their appearance in Mexico, both coupès were retired and disappeared off the radar. The Collier car - 550-01 - was eventually discovered just a few years ago and restored [some say over restored] by Cavaglieri. In its 1953 Carrera Panamericana specification, 550-1 was presented at Goodwood in an exact version of the livery used when it competed in 1953. For a mini tour, see this http://origin.porsche.com/uk/videos/por ... t-goodwood
I want to turn the clock back fifty years...