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NEWS OF a particular Porsche displayed at the Essen Motor Show1 prompts me to recall my own once-in-a-lifetime experience piloting a single-seat Porsche. Known as der Volksschlepper, this vehicle gets too little credit in establishing Zuffenhausen in its chosen field.
Just as the world’s first sports car, the 1912 Hispano-Suiza Alfonso XIII, is associated with Spanish royalty, I gather that antecedents of Professor Dr. Ferdinand Porsche’s Volksschlepper owe similar homage to Germany’s Adolf Hitler. Cites one source, “In retrospect, the Professor may have sold this idea to Hitler like he sold so many of his other ideas.”2
What with one thing and another, Porsche didn’t get around to producing this single-seat sports car until 1950, and then by licensing its advanced technology to Allgaier GmbH, a German firm with prior experience in the field.3
The Allgaier-System Porsche machines were produced from 1953 in four air-cooled diesel variants of one, two, three and four cylinders. Outputs were, modularly enough, 11, 22, 33 and 44 hp, respectively.
Beginning in 1956, Mannesmann AG recognized the market for such spritely sports machines. It bought the Allgaier license and brought out its own variants.
Mannesmann’s Porsche-Diesel monoposto Volksschleppers—now there’s a polyglot mouthful!—again came in four models, the Junior, Standard, Super and Master. In keeping with the sports concept, outputs increased to 14, 25, 38 and 50 hp, respectively.4
Readers are no doubt aware of collector car squabbles over heritage, provenance and the like. With these two producers of Volksschleppers, nothing could be simpler: If it’s green, it’s an Allgaier; if it’s red, it’s a Mannesmann; if otherwise, it’s a repaint and I wouldn’t touch it with a 2-metre rake.
As shown in these photos, I drove the monoposto Volksschlepper in Germany; Bavaria, to be exact. I remember dining near a sign that said “München.” It was great fun, though I must confess that, for a sportster, the Volksschlepper did plow a bit. ds
1. See http://goo.gl/AQiHA.
3. See http://www.porsche-diesel.com/history.aspx for details of this: As Porsche didn’t have production heritage in the field, it was required to farm out the concept.
4. Thus destroying the modular elegance of previous ratings. Also, I was unable to find any Race history for the Junior, Standard, Super or Master. I doubt the nomenclature would have caught on.
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2012