The frog-eyed Porsche 911 has one of the most iconic shapes in all of the car world, never straying far from the original in its 55 years of production. Which is why looking at this car and seeing "Porsche 911" on the rear is so bizarre. This shape is not that of a Porsche 911.
Except, it is. In 1965, California Porsche dealer John von Neumann really wanted a convertible 911. Drop-top versions of the 356—including the Speedster, which he helped create—were very popular in California, but Porsche didn't have a new convertible when production of its first sports car ended. The 911 Targa, with its removable center roof section, was still a few years away, and Von Neumann wasn't convinced it'd be a hit anyways. , which is auctioning this car, that led him to take matters into his own hands.
He was able to acquire a bare 911 chassis from Porsche, and tapped Nuccio Bertone to design bodywork around it. The results were distinctly Italian in style, more resembling Bertone's Fiat 850 Spider, which also debuted in 1965. Notably, it looks like no Porsche before or since. Its interior has some recognizable Porsche parts, too, but the look is totally different than the 911s we know.
The 911 by Bertone was displayed at the Geneva Motor Show in 1966 to see if it could generate enough interest to justify production. Von Neumann funded this project himself, but Porsche had final say on whether it'd be built. Unfortunately, no one placed any orders during the show, so Von Neumann gave up on the car, but he kept the single prototype for himself.
Since coming back to the US after Geneva, this car has been owned by a number of private collectors. It's also been upgraded with a 2.0-liter flat-six from a 911 S, and wheels from a 914-6.
Gooding & Company says this car currently runs, but needs a bit more work to become roadworthy. That doesn't seem to have an effect on price, though. The auction house estimates it'll sell for between $700,000 and $1 million when it crosses the block at Pebble Beach later this month.
Whoever buys it will have a very odd piece of Porsche 911 history. It's a very pretty car, to be sure, but it's totally unrecognizable as a 911. It'd stick out like a sore thumb at a Porsche Club of America meeting, but perhaps that's what makes it so cool.