The Porsche Jagdwagen (which roughly translates to "hunting car") was every hunter's dream, and now it's every collector's dream!
The Jagdwagen came out of a NATO competition to create a light army-transport vehicle similar to the American Jeep. The vehicle that Porsche entered was a small, canvas-topped 4x4 that used stamped-steel body panels and a simplified 356 engine as its powertrain.
Similar to the 356 itself, the engine was in the back, using 1.5- and 1.6-litre versions of the air-cooled flat-four engine. The "top" 1.6-litre unit that featured in later versions of the Jagdwagen produced 50hp, giving the vehicle a top speed of around 62 mph.
The Jagdwagen was relatively nimble, with a weight of 2,182 pounds, and had a five-speed gearbox – quite a lot of gears for a vehicle like this one. In addition, it was able to switch between two-wheel and four-wheel drive on the go.
The Jagdwagen offered an abundance of off-road ability and could even climb gradients of 65 percent, thanks to its generous approach and departure angles. The vehicle was also quite amphibious as it was able to float without taking on water when needed, but it probably wasn't anyone's first choice for a whitewater rafting trip.
So, what happened to the project? Well, the similar-looking DKW Munga beat entries from Borgward and Porsche in the competition as a result of even simpler engineering and build processes.
In some cases, this might have meant the end of the project with a few prototypes stashed away in a museum. But, having invested 1.8 million Deutschmarks (quite a bit in those days) developing the Jagdwagen, Porsche tried to find other uses for this 4x4.
This is where the Jagdwagen name comes from – Porsche decided to rebrand it for use by hunters, game wardens and forestry workers.
Porsche built about 71 examples of the Jadwagen between 1955 and 1957 – not exactly a 24/7 production line – with 49 built to civilian spec and sold to owners. Unfortunately, very few of these precious cars survive today, and recent auction sales have noted that only about 15 are known to exist nowadays.