Coachbuilding is an age old art. Few genuine coachbuilders exist today. The Porche has always had a coachbuilt body.
When Porsche returned to Stuttgart in 1950, they acquired space from Karosserie Reutter. Reutter had built te three 60K10 Berlin-Rome cars, in 1939.
Other coachbuilders wanted a piece of the action. Gebruder Beutler, of Thun, Switserland, built roadster bodies on the first six Gmund chassis. Later, Beutler would build a stretch coupe and cabriolet on the 356B. Wendler, who would build the Spyder bodies, built a cabriolet on a 356 chassis. Glaser built the Type 540, America. Ghia built a roadster and two four door sedans (see the new book “Ghia, Ford’s Carrozzeria” by David Burgess-Wise). Glockler built a spyder. In the United States, Lou Faegol built a twin-engine Porsche and customizer Dean Jeffries attacked the 356. (See “Porsche Sondertypen,” by Boschen/Barth).
The object of this apparent madness was that the Karosserie (Carrozzerie or coachbuilder) wanted a contract to build bodies for Porsche.
It was not until 1958, that Porsche relented and contracted with Drauz of Heilbronn, for the production of the Convertible “D”.
Drauz was established before 1900. They had established a reputation for building open cars, on such chassis as BMW, Opel and even a Chrysler. In 1934, they made the prototype NSU for Professor Porsche. They also built the prototype of the Schwimmenwagen, as well as Ketterrad for Porsche.
They received the original stamping for the Speedster, but had to make their stampings for the convertible “D”. The assembled body was trucked to Porsche for completion. When the 356B appeared, Drauz continued to make the roadster until 1961, when the dies were sold to D’lteren Freres, in Belgium.
The reason that Drauz stopped making the roadster was that they received a lucrative order from Ford, of Germany, to build truck bodies.
Because of the demand for Porsches, and the limited production facilities of Reutter, Porsche contracted with Karmann of Osnabruck to build coupe bodies at the outset of the 356B. Is it my imagination, or did the U.S. receive more Karmann bodied coupes than Reutter?
In 1963, Reutter was taken over by Porsche. For a short while, the place on the door jam read, “Porsche Karosserie.”
The design of the 356 originated with a raindrop, the perfect shape created by nature. It was Paul Jaray, the father of streamlining, who in 1921 stated that a design based on one-half of the raindrop could double the top speed of an automobile.
The type 60K10 was such a design and the 356 was a production version of the 60K10. The design is a text-book form follows function that will never be dated.
Source: ODDS ‘N ENDS, Gene Babow