Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Lindner Coupe

I have recently finished reading Ferry Porsche's autobiography, “Cars are my Life.” It's filled with interesting anecdotes about automotive development in the 1930s, the development of the Volkswagen and the Porsche and is a highly recommended read. Porsche once considered building a four seat sedan version of the 911, but ultimately decided against it. Expanding the car to sedan dimensions would have turned what was a perfect sports coupe into.... well, the equivalent of a modern Porsche SUV. Ferry Porsche knew what the company was about and never compromised his vision.

Porsche 356

However, there was a four seater 'Porsche' but it had a surprising origin - East Germany. In 1954, twin brothers Knut and Falk Reimann we're working for the Lindner Karosserie Company in Dresden, East Germany.

Before the war Lindner built custom car bodies but times had become tough in the post-war years. Transport was in short supply and just about anything with wheels and an engine, regardless of its condition, would be put into service. The brothers had found a military kubelwagen chassis in a nearby forest and although badly damaged with a body that was beyond repair, the brothers decided to savage what they could and build a new car from scratch. At this time East Germany was not closed off from West Germany and they had seen and admired Porsche's 356 and they determined to build a copy.

The Kubel chassis as found. It had been dragged out of a nearby forest.

Onto the kubel chassis they mounted an ash wood frame over which they fitted a hand beaten steel body. Sheet metal was in such short supply that they were forced to scrounge whatever pieces were they could find. 15 damaged Ford bonnets were used to build the mosaic patchwork of small hand welded panels.

The car slowly comes together in the Lindner garage

Fitting the front panels

The patchwork of pieces used for the panels is clearly apparent in this photo

Give the brothers meagre resources, the car they completed in 1954 was quite stunning. They had replicated the 356s elegant curves perfectly, except being slightly wider and 30 centimetres longer. The Lindner Porsche seated four passengers in relative comfort.

The brothers took the car to Porsche’s head office in Zuffenhausen where Ferry Porsche was invited to inspect it. When Porsche heard of the car his initial reaction was to quash this imitator, but after meeting the brothers and examining their work his irritation turned to admiration. Porsche donated a Porsche tuned 1100cc Volkswagen engine and other parts to the project. He also assisted the brothers with false registration papers and licence plates (to fool the GDR authorities) and allowed them to brand the car ‘Porscheli.’ The brothers then took the car on a journey through Europe exhibiting the car in Germany and Paris, where there was considerable interest.

The finished product

Porsche continued his clandestine assistance to Lindner and the Reimann brothers by smuggling Porsche parts across the East German border and Lindner built another 13 examples of the 'Porscheli' for East German customers before they ran out of donor cars and production came to a standstill.

The Reimann brothers’ adventures also came to standstill in 1961 when they were arrested trying to flee to the west. After being imprisoned for one and a half years the twins went their separate ways, settled down and never returned to the car business.

Falk Reimann with Porschli number 4

Surprisingly three Lindner Porscheli have survived. The surviving brother, Falk, who had moved to Hungary, supervised the restoration of Lindner Porsche number 4 in 2016. Sadly he died just after the restoration was completed in April 2016.

The restored coupe

Classic Cars and Coffee, Perth

Next Classic Cars and Coffee is Sunday 2 May 2017

Classic Cars and Coffee is a new, monthly event for classic car enthusiasts in Perth. It's an informal get together to meet, discuss cars and drink coffee for a couple of hours on a Sunday morning. It starts at 8.30am and winds up around 10.30 but attendees can arrive and depart at will. The two events held so far in the parking lot of the University of WA, Nedlands have been very well received. There is undercover parking in winter. The plan is to host these events monthly so check out the Facebook page or website for details.

Photos from the first Classic Cars and Coffee in 2017

Lotus Elan Sprint, Toyota Sera and Shelly's VW Karmann Ghia

A sight you don't see too often - two Citroen SMs parked together

Rear view of the Citroen SMs.  They are not as elegant as their DS forebears.

The Maserati engine of the SM is a disaster area of over engineering

The original and elegant Citroen DS. No car quite like it.

Renault 8 Alpine and Renault 10

Gorgeous Jaguar sails past

VW Karmann Ghia cabriolet

Aston-Martin DB4

Datsun 240Z and Karmann Ghia

BMW line up

Rover 16

Porsche 356s

Mercedes-Benz 300SL

Mercedes-Benz 300SL

Chevrolet Corvettes mark 1 and 2

Photos from the second Classic Cars and Coffee

The Garage Journal photographed me as I arrived

A photo from the Garage Journal. I am down at the end

And this was my photo of this Ford engined racer

Three vintage Bentley's attended

Bentley and Cadillac




1958 VW Karmann Ghia low light

Reliant Scimitars. I was surprised to see so many in Perth. They were attending the Fibreglassics run that started from the UWA carpark.

Reliant Scimitar and Marcos sportster

Daimler x and MG TC

The Marcos leads the Fibreglassics run away

Ford Thunderbird

Porsche 550

Citroen SM and Volvo 544

DKW F94, Volvo 544 and Citroen SM

Citroen H-van coffee van of The Patron. Great coffee!