The Porsche Cayenne is widely viewed as the German carmaker’s first foray into the world of 4x4s and off-roaders. However, in the mid-1950s, Porsche dabbled in this space with the Type 597, which was conceived for the German Army.
The story of the Type 597 starts back in early 1953 when Porsche was competing against Auto Union and the Borgward Group for a military contract. It was tasked with creating a light truck for the army and the Type 597 is what it came up with. Just 71 examples are believed to have been produced and in August, the 5th of just 22 prototypes will be auctioned off by RM Sotheby’s.
While the Type 597 looks unlike any other Porsche ever conceived, it actually had more in common with other models that you may expect. Indeed, it features a rear-mounted, air-cooled 1.5-liter flat-four engine that was lifted from the 356 sports car. In addition, it has the same four-speed manual transmission as the 356 but given that it was designed for a very different purpose, the powertrain was modified with a greater focus on reliability over performance.
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A key feature of the 957 is its front axle coupling that provided it with selectable four-wheel drive capabilities. The design of the body also offered it plenty of height to climb up steep hills while also crossing large bodies of water. Of the 22 prototypes produced, at least two are thought to have had propellers and oars to make them completely amphibious.
Porsche did not win the military contract that it was seeking, due in part to the vehicle’s high development costs, assembly time, per-unit price, and Porsche’s difficulties in producing it alongside the 356 Carrera and 550 Spyder as well as distributing appropriate spare parts.
This example has undergone a restoration and is finished in its original shade of Olive Green, complete with a matching green interior. RM Sotheby’s expects it to sell for between $725,000 and $775,000.