Porsche 901 Cabriolet: the rarest Porsche

These are the moments that, as a profound Porsche enthusiast, you live for. It’s 9:30am on what will be a scorching hot summer’s day in central London, yet far below the pavement lining the busy streets of the City we find ourselves in a tactfully nondescript garage devoid of windows to let in the bright sunshine.

Nevertheless our location is immensely gratifying: we’re kept cool by the ambient temperature of the ventilated bunker yet encapsulated by its primary occupant, a 901 Cabriolet.

When I say ‘a’ 901 Cabriolet, of course, I mean ‘the’ 901 Cabriolet. Such a rarity that it is a true one-off car from the factory, its extraordinary prominence lies with the fact it is the car that has shaped generations of the open-topped Porsche 911 as we know it.

901 Cabriolet prototype

Of course, many Porsche aficionados will suspect an anomaly is present when reading ‘901’ and ‘Cabriolet’ in the same sentence. In terms of production cars, this is correct: the first 911 Cabriolet didn’t arrive until 1983 under the last year of SC assembly.

However, the concept of a Cabriolet 911 was born some two decades previously, when F.A. Porsche and his Zuffenhausen engineers investigated the possibility for an open-topped version of their new sports car to sit alongside its Coupe variant.

The year was 1963 and Porsche had just revealed the revolutionary 901 sports car to the world at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Due for release the following year, this new car won admirers for its sleek design and powerful flat six engine. The 901 held much promise.

Prototype Fuchs wheel

Behind closed doors, testing of the all-new Porsche continued, and it is claimed that thirteen mules were assembled as prototypes – seven in 1963 and six in 1964. These prototypes were made for a variety of specific purposes, be it to test suspensions, engines, even body styles.

These prototypes were denoted by having the prefix ‘13’ in their chassis number as opposed to the ‘300’ attained to fully-fledged production vehicles and, to all intents and purposes, Porsche usually destroyed the cars once all relevant information had been garnered from them.

To continue reading our history of the Porsche 901 Cabriolet prototype, pick up a copy of Total 911 issue 130 in store. Alternatively, order your copy online for home delivery or download it straight to your digital device now.

Porsche 901 Cabriolet prototype

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