Air-cooled Dub lovers the globe over are all too aware of the historic link between Volkswagen and Porsche and, if we’re honest, many of us still hanker after a nice 911. But we bet you’ve never heard of this oddball model that’s recently been found after a 50 year slumber…
It’s called a 911 HLS ‘retractable roof’ and its story dates back to 1966 when, as a standard 911 model, it was dispatched to the Automotive Engineering Department at the University of Aachen. The objective was to turn it into a racing coupe with a folding roof…
The early design exercises seem to mimic the profile of the celebrated Porsche 904, although its retractable roof wasn’t exactly elegant in form, with the entire cabin compartment, complete with roof and doors, crudely hinging forward from the bottom of the front windscreen.
Equally weird was the louvred rear engine cover, which looks very Italianesque in design, as does the tapered rear end. The only familiar panel seems to be the brushed stainless steel centre roof section, seemingly taken from a 911 Targa. To keep weight down many of the body panels were fabricated in aluminium.
With a prototype having been made, painted bright green and given the nomenclature ‘HLS’, the oddball German creation subsequently disappeared off the radar. More than four decades later it emerged again, and after much negotiation with the owner, it was snapped up by Manfred Hering from US Porsche specialist Early 911S.
Needless to say, time has taken its toll on the rare concept – and having stood outside for the best part of 50 years, it’s not exactly in the best of shape. The fact that a family of mice had nibbled away at much of the interior hasn’t helped. However, the original engine, as well as a spare, although dismantled, were still with the car – as were the front and rear seats and what was left of the rest of the cabin.
You can see from the pictures, the HLS features the instantly recognisable curved instrument pod from the 911 – albeit minus its dials and rather bizarrely positioned on the passenger side of the cockpit.
While obviously needing a bit of a spruce up, Hering has stated that the car will be displayed for the first time at the Techno Classic in Essen this April and he will attempt to restore as many of the original parts as possible.
Despite its sorry state, it’s certainly got us intrigued. The steel wheels are obviously Porsche and the twin headlamps at the front remind us of the Audi 80 Coupé. Yet, the rear end could have come straight out of Fiat’s Turin factory. Either way, it will take a bit of work before it’s back on the road again. If it does finally get restored, there’s no doubt it will lead to a fair bit of chin rubbing…
The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of VW Heritage