Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


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.

A true sports machine, everything falls readily to hand or foot. In fact, it’s not difficult to fall off entirely.

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

This is the obligatory beauty shot. You can’t see the Volksschlepper very well, but art directors admire the photo’s composition.

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  

Anticipating all the usual carping from the diesel crowd, Porsche wisely chose compression ignition for its Volksschlepper from the get-go.

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.

A sign of a true sportster: Instrumentation and controls are elegantly simple, functional and no more than necessary.

Beginning in 1956, Mannesmann AG recognized the market for such spritely sports machines. It bought the Allgaier license and brought out its own variants.

Porsche may have told regulators that the Volksschlepper was a two-seater. Other manufacturers of race machines have tried this ploy. Or maybe this tubular holder was for the FIA suitcase during the 1960s.

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

The front styling of a machine defines its face, thus establishing its personality.

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.

You’ve heard of live axles. This one is postively promiscuous, sleeping with the rest of the Volksschlepper chassis. And I’m hardly one to mention unsprung weight.

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

2. See

3. See 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,, 2012


  1. Myron Vernis
    December 2, 2012

    Next time you’re in northern Ohio, stop by for some good ol’ Porsche-Diesel racin’. The Standard is always the favorite but the green P111 always gets the looks.

  2. Bill Urban
    December 3, 2012

    Dennis, keep the great posts and pics’ comin’. One good tidbit after another (but I did find “carping from the diesel crowd” mildly distressing :). And that plowing tendency? No wonder, look at those skinny front tires. Finally, best to avoid talk of unsprung weight . . . it conjures up images of jouncing and rebounding.

    • simanaitissays
      December 3, 2012

      Hi, Bill, All in good fun. Thanks for joining in. – d

      Sent from my iPhone

  3. Frank Barrett
    May 2, 2015


    Enjoyed your punny piece on Porsche powers. I claim to be one of the few mortals that have auto tossed one!


  4. Frank Barrett
    September 23, 2017

    Make that “autocrossed'” please Mr. Editor…

  5. simanaitissays
    September 23, 2017

    Frank, I believe it’s beyond any statute of limitations. (I ordinarily allow myself a 30-minute rule for updates, corrections, and other changes without having to note them as “errata.” As most items post at 6:05 a.m. Pacific, this gives me until 6:35 to play “Mr. Editor.” As for “auto tossed,” with a Volksschlepper you never know….)

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This entry was posted on November 28, 2012 by in Classic Bits and tagged , .
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