Those who know me, or have read much of my work over the last few years, know that I am a died-in-the-wool Porsche fanatic, fanboy, bleeding heart, aircooled apologist freak. With that out of the way, I present to you the single coolest project I have ever seen, Porsche related or not. It is the rare type of project that emulates the “good old days”, it is exciting, crazy, ambitious, and gorgeous at the same time. A homebuilt hot-rod, the type that are seldom completed (lord knows my own will never be finished), that has reached a stage in its life where it has rumbled to life and has already been driven in anger.
When Chris Runge dreamed up this project, it was for him, and him alone. This was not intended to be an internet sensation, but a car to be enjoyed, as it should be. Ferdinand Porsche once said “These cars are meant to be driven, not polished.”, and Mr. Runge has treated his own vintage Porsche emulate with the same ethos. It gets driven, and driven hard. It isn’t quite a race car for the street, but it isn’t exactly a street car for the racetrack either, it is something wholly its own category.
Originally inspired by the “Glockler Series 1 VW Home-built racer of 1950 German 1100cc sports car class championship fame, Chris’ car has become something of a legend in its own right. The original incarnation of the Glockler used a 1.1 liter Porsche engine, mated to a Porsche manufactured 4 speed. Using alcohol fuel, the relatively unmodified engine produced 62 horsepower, and won many races in Germany. The great national publicity supplied by the special was partially responsible for the early growth of the tiny Porsche motoren werke. As a youngster, Chris first saw the Glockler in the pages of “Excellence Was Expected”, possibly the best book ever written on the history of Porsche as a brand. Since that time, Chris has made it his goal to one day create his own special.
Chris’ Frankfurt Flyer, as it has been named, started life in the 1980s as a Predator P3 Formula Vee chassis. Chris picked up the dilapidated chassis for pennies on the dollar, and stripped the engine and transmission for rebuild. Keeping the transaxle relatively stock, the gears are still more than capable and reliable to stand up to the modest power needed. Employing a Porsche 912 crank and rods, a 1958 VW type 1 case, and 1966 beetle pistons, Chris produced a hot and simple little stroker motor, producing an estimated 70 horsepower.
Using 165 series 15 inch Vredestein tires and rebuilt original Volkswagen drum brakes, the car is kept in check. Luckily, with so little weight to haul down from speed, the car brakes with aplomb. With a square tube chassis, and a hammer formed aluminum skin, the car weighs as much as a cigarette paper, and could likely fly away with a strong gust of wind. Wishing to keep the car street legal, Chris installed headlamps and painted the car silver to avoid a polished aluminum reflective sheen. The color is fetching, and combined with a red racing stripe across the front, somehow manages to look at home on the extended flanks of the Porsche.
Whether you are a Porsche fan or not is irrelevant in this case. Each and every one of us can appreciate the effort that goes into shaping and welding, then sanding and painting your own home-built bodywork. We know what it takes to build a performance oriented engine and transmission assembly. We know (or can at least intimate) the feeling of starting your project for the first time and rolling it out of the garage under its own power. We belong to the brotherhood of speed, the same brotherhood that led Chris to produce his FF creation. If you share the same level of feeling, if you belong to this brotherhood, please vote for the Frankfurt Flyer as your pick for the 2012 Hooniverse Car of the Year.
Photography courtesy Chris Runge and Jim Goodlett