Lighting strikes twice; an encounter with a Porsche 356/2 Gmund Coupe

Well, it happened again; another encounter that spawned a delayed case of extreme Porsche deja-vu.

It all began with my coming face to face with an incredibly rare Porsche 356 on Saturday morning July 7 at Cars&Coffee. As I was driving into the parking lot around 6 AM, I noticed a curiously proportioned Porsche 356 already parked between several other Porsches. After finding my spot and parking, I headed straight towards the middle of Porsche row, where this unique Ivory colored 356 was located.

Ivory Porsche 356/2 Gmund coupe_Porsche row_cars&coffee_July 7, 2012

I quickly realized based upon the profile, unique contours, the shape of the hood, the presence of a split windshield and several other subtle design details, that this Ivory colored 356 parked before me had to be one of Porsches earliest production models; a Gmund coupe. By the time I made my way to the back of the car, the details observed out back helped to validate its identity.

Ivory Porsche 356/2 Gmund coupe_rear view_cars&coffee_July 7, 2012

The broad contoured rear fenders, accented by the pair of small, dual beehive rear tail lights, combined with the small, sharply raked rear window and vintage California license plate, all worked together to establish this car as a true Porsche Gmund Coupe.

The single grill on the rear deck lid also held a subtle clue as to this cars identity; a commemorative badge proudly displayed, which translates to “A Legend becomes 50”; a reference to the 1948 debut of Porsches Gmund built vehicles, beginning with the first 356 (356-001).

Ivory Porsche 356/2 Gmund coupe_rear grill badge_cars&coffee_July 7, 2012

Ivory Porsche 356/2 Gmund coupe_3/4 rear view_Porsche row_cars&coffee_July 7, 2012

As I circled the coupe, photographing it from a variety of angles in an attempt to record its very presence at the event, I could hear parts and pieces of conversations taking place in the groups standing around the car. The common questions being asked had to do with the nature of this car; what model is it, and what year was it built? The thing I find very interesting is that there seems to be three very distinct camps with opinions regarding the total number of Gmund vehicles built. In one book that I read, the author suggested that between 1949 and 1951, Porsche produced a total of only 49 Porsche 356/2 Gmund models. He went on to state that of the 49 total produced, 41 had been built as coupes, while the remaining 8 cars were constructed as cabriolets. The second camp believes the Gmund production numbers to be at 50 cars.  However, it is the third group that appears  the most optimistic. Accordingly, their research suggests that Porsche initially produced a total of 52 Gmund vehicles, and later crafted an additional 11 Gmund bodies, intended solely for racing.

I later learned from a very reliable source that this particular car is actually chassis number 50 (356/2-050). That number makes it one of the last Gmund coupes produced by Porsche. The one missing piece of the puzzle however, has to do with the cars build date.  Is this a late 1950 or 1951 model?

Ivory Porsche 356/2 Gmund coupe_Interior view__cars&coffee_July 7, 2012

The genesis of the 356 hood handle and early Porsche badging (as seen below)…

Ivory Porsche 356/2 Gmund coupe_front hood detail__cars&coffee_July 7, 2012For turn signals, the Gmund models utilized “trafficators”; a semaphore type device that would rise up out of the side of each front fender, and centrally located between the front edge of each door and the front wheel well (as seen below)…

Ivory Porsche 356/2 Gmund coupe_3/4 front view_Porsche row__cars&coffee_July 7, 2012

Ivory Porsche 356/2 Gmund coupe_split windshield and wiper details_Porsche row__cars&coffee_July 7, 2012

Fresh on the heels of my encounter with the Porsche Gmund coupe at Cars&Coffee, when I arrived home after work on Monday evening, I was greeted by two car magazines that had just come in the mail. The first was “Excellence”, the Magazine about Porsche, and the second was “Christophorus”; the Porsche Factory’s in-house publication that celebrates all things Porsche. Because the June /July 2012 issue of Christophorus would be # 356, it was only fitting that Porsche dedicate the entire magazine to a celebration of the 356. As I thumbed through the issue, I discovered a section highlighting five cars of significance selected from the Porsche museum, one of which just happened to be a 356/2 Gmund coupe. Interestingly enough, in the brief write-up about the museum car, a reference was made regarding its rarity; a total of only 52 Gmund vehicles produced. After finishing my review of Christophorus, I shifted over to Excellence and began skimming the articles. Midway through the magazine, I turned the page only to discover an article titled “Pure Joy”: 356/2-045 – Out of the mud grows the lotus”, and a photo taken of the front end of a red 1950 Porsche Gmund coupe. That’s when it hit me; this car was virtually identical to the Ivory colored coupe that I had just seen in person. After eagerly reading the article, I learned that the car featured in the article (chassis # 045) had undergone an extensive 2 year restoration, which concluded with its entry into the Pebble Beach Concours event in the summer of 2011, where it scored a first place victory in the “Postwar Sports Cars, Closed” category. Even more impressive is the fact that the car is owned and had its restoration commissioned by a member of the Porsche family; in particular Hans-Peter Porsche, one of Dr. Porsches four sons.

My wife frequently asks why I attend a car show every week, and asks “aren’t the cars always the same ones? And my answer is always the same – “there is something new every week, and you never know what rare and exotic treasures will show up “. This statement could not have better described my early morning encounter with the Gmund coupe…

Ivory Porsche 356/2 Gmund coupe_front view_Porsche row__cars&coffee_July 7, 2012

(All photos by the author)

“Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!”

As I walked through the rows of cars Saturday morning at Cars&Coffee, it dawned on me that regardless of the makes or models present, each and every car to one degree or another possessed an often overlooked detail; vehicle graphics, be it dimensional manufacturers badges or applied decal/vinyl graphics. And in addition to these basic badges, a large percentage of these cars also displayed secondary ID in the form of car club badges, installed on either vehicle grills or on badge bars (i.e. driving light bars), typically mounted at the front of the car.

If one takes a historical look back at the creation of the automobile, the coachbuilders and subsequent manufacturers soon recognized the value of marking their cars to identify their origins and over time used these emblems or badges as a tool to differentiate between brands and models. Manufacturers also shifted their design focus over to the creation of vehicle radiator caps and hood emblems; starting out as a functional component and over time evolving into visual brand markers.

Vintage Bentley radiator cap and badge_ Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Contemporary Bentley hood emblem_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Contemporary Bentley trunk emblem_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

With the arrival of the automobile, and as public interests grew, these new passions translated into the creation of car clubs. These interests in turn created a need for member identification, thus the creation of car club badges. These became a means for the identification of specific regional club members, and provided the opportunity to commemorate specific events (club tours, driving competitions, concours events, etc). And with each new event, owners had the opportunity to add additional car club badges to their vehicles. For many of the european makes, these club badges were proudly displayed on the front grills of the cars, or if the car was equipped with driving or fog lights, the badges were secured onto the unused portions of the horizontal lighting support brackets, common to so many of the cars of the day.

Vintage Jaguar touring sedan_grill detail & badges_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Vintage Jaguar touring sedan_driving light detail & club badge reflections_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

It also became apparent that most vehicle manufacturers utilize a two tiered system regarding vehicle identification; a primary graphic ID (hood of front grill brand ID), along with a secondary graphic( usually found at the back of the car), and used to identify the specific models.

The following photos recount a few of the observations I’ve made on this topic…

Blue vintage Ferrari_front hood badge detail_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Yellow Ferrari_rear trunk badge detail_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Silver BMW 3.0CSI_ c- pillar BMW badge_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Silver BMW 3.0CSI_ rear trunk model ID_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Green Jaguar XK 150_hood emblem and grill badge_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Green Jaguar XK 150_rear trunk badge_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Silver BMW Isetta _with front badge bar_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Green Land Rover_front grill badge bar and badges_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Black Ford mustang_Shelby GT 500 rear badge_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Yellow Dino Ferrari_ rear badge_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Dove Blue VW type II transporter_front view_OCTO fest_2011

Burgundy Jaguar XK 150_badge and shadow_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Mercedes Benz_ grill and hood emblem_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Ivory Mercedes Benz 300SL_rear trunk lid badging_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Vintage Mercedes Benz cabriolet_grill and badge detail_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Mercedes Benz cabriolet_grill / badge detail_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Red 1980's Audi Quattro_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

White Porsche GT3 _carbon fiber hood & badge detail_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

White 1972 Porsche 911_ rear grill and badges_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Blue Porsche 356 SC cabriolet_rear badges_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Orange Porsche 914-6_rear european badging_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Dark Green Porsche 356 A_rear view grill detail_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Silver Porsche 356 A coupe_rear grill event badge_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Red Porsche 356 cabriolet_rear grill badge_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Black Porsche 356 coupe_rear grill badges_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

1973 Porsche 911T_rear grill badge_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Red 1964 corvette stingray coupe_rear view_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Matt black Cadillac CTS/V_rear deck badge_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Metallic green 1948 Chevrolet pick up truck_front grill detail_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

1923 Ford model T  hot rod_brass grill & radiator cap_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Primer gray 1932 Ford highboy_rear club badge & license plate_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Blue 1957 Ford thunderbird_front hood emblem_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Ivory white Volvo P1800_c pillar badge_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Black and red Bugatti Veyron_front grill_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

Pearl white McLaren MP4-12C_rear view_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

2007 viper green Porsche GT3RS_3/4 front view_Cars&Coffee-5/28/12

Black 2012 Porsche type 991_rear view_Cars&Coffee_5/28/12

And as seen above, Porsches new 2012 type 991 with its new branding design layout, reintroducing the PORSCHE copy as a dimensional element in concert with the model ID.  However, for those within the Porsche community, the concerns being voiced seem to be over branding; how much is too much? What do you think?

(All photos by the author)