The Home-Built Porsche that Defied Communism

Two brothers on the communist side of Germany had a dream, the will and the used Beetle engine to make their own 356. And Porsche helped.

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After the war, the unlucky millions ending up on the Soviet-occupied side of Germany were looking at the same fate as the rest of the eastern block: a planned economy, rationing of food and goods, reading a lot about the "zero percent" unemployment rate and other economic miracles, and trying to remain unnoticed by the cruel secret police. Yet once Germany's first sports car debuted on the happier side of the border, two engineering students from Dresden decided life wasn't worth living without a Porsche 356.

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Since there was no shortage of decommissioned Kübelwagens in the German Democratic Republic, Knut and Falk Reinmann used Volkswagen's military truck as a base for their home-build Porsche.

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While creating a hand-hammered body was a challenge, coming up with the right engine seemed even more problematic. To find some help, the brothers took a trip to Porsche's headquarters at Zuffenhausen, explaining their ambitions to Ferry Porsche himself.

A few days later, Porsche sent them a set of used 356 pistons and heads, which the Reinmanns then smuggled back to East Germany. Once the parts made their way into a standard Beetle engine, the GDR Porsche was ready for assembly. Needless to say, once finished, the brothers decided to use their 1954 Whatchamacallit for a road trip across Europe, sporting a fake plate and sharing a single driving license between the two of them.

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Oh, the freedom of those pre-Berlin Wall years...

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