The Mystery of the
21st Abarth Solved
There were only twenty 356B GTL
“Abarth" Carreras built - or were there?
Marco Marinello sheds some light
on the mysterious extra serial number
in the chassis sequence of 1000 to 1021.
With great interest I read the Abarth story in the last issue. Some years ago I solved the mystery of 1021 which I would like to share with the members. A few years ago I was asked again by Jürgen Barth to do the proof-reading for the 356 chapters of his new edition of The Porsche book. As I did before, I changed the statistic production numbers and the text from his 21 Abarth GTLs built to my 20 cars total. He called me immediately and insisted that there were 21 cars built and that he has all 21 Kardex cards. My defense was, that I have the records of the chassis that Porsche delivered to Abarth, and there were simply only 20 chassis delivered. I asked him to fax me the Kardex of the chassis nr. 1021, which I had never seen. After reading the details it was clear to both of us that this car was for sure no Abarth, at least I have never heard of an Abarth with toneau cover! The first owner, a Mr. Folker Rieflin, was listed with a c/o address (bei Bräuner), and it sounded very odd to me that a person without a proper home address could afford a Porsche car. I guessed that it could have been a young engineer doing his first practical stage at Porsche. I called Jürgen again and ask if that name rang a bell since he was working at Porsche at that time. He vaguely remembered the name and we both concluded that it could have been one of many young engineers. I called Herbert Linge and he remembered Mr. Rieflin as a young engineer that worked at Porsche for 3 or 4 years and then went to work for Porsche Cars America and then on to VW of America. I made some phone calls to my connections in Wolfsburg and I did find Mr. Rieflin’s phone number in Michigan, where he had worked for VW. On the same day I had him on the phone to hear the full story of 1021.
After he finished his engineering studies in 1959 he went to work for Porsche to get some practical experience, and since it was a dream for him to work there. He started work in the engine department and soon he was one of the chosen mechanics to assemble the 4-cam engine. Until he left Zuffenhausen to work for Porsche of America, he assembled 4-cam engines. His father always drove Porsche cars and in 1960 he wanted to buy a new one. He looked at the new 356 B T5 but did not like the looks and asked his son to check if there were any A Cabriolets left at the factory. Unfortunately all A's were sold except one complete replacement body that was ordered but never sold by August,1960. Folker bought the car on behalf of his father and that 356 A Cabriolet body was assembled at the race department with all the new B drive train and a Super 90 engine. According to the Kardex card this heron grey 356 A Cabriolet received all sorts of special options such as: full leather, Dunlop tires, fog lights, Speedster script on the side, electric clock, two arm rests, two head rests, visor with make-up mirror, tonneau cover, side chrome spear, chrome wheels, headlight stone guards, deluxe horn ring and two Talbot mirrors.
Since this 356 A with all B mechanical components did not comply with the official road certification, it was road registered by a special single car certificate (Einzelabnahme). At the same time the last production batch of Abarth
Note the Super 90 script on a 356A, dual Talbot mirrors, Speedster script. Imagine if one were to show up at a Concours with this car today. The judges would freak out and send you home - but this was all factory original! Photos courtesy of Folker Rieflin.
Carreras received the same special road certification for the German street title and therefore, Porsche just used the next number, “1021" for this unique A/ B S90 Cabriolet! In 1962 his father crashed the car severely (see picture) and he took it to the repair shop at Werk I. The repair cost would have been too expensive and he sold the car to a Porsche employee from the body shop. Unfortunately, Folker does not remember the guy’s name but he sort of remembers that the buyer fixed the car in his spare time and sold it on, which was a common little money maker among the Porsche factory mechanics. Folker never heard of the car again, he was also not aware of the very unusual chassis number that the car had until we talked about it. I met him four years ago in Detroit, he is retired from VW of America and enjoys restoring pre-war American cars. I tried very hard to find 1021 somewhere in Germany, but so far, no luck.
Marco Marinello is the proprietor of Elevenparts in Zurich,
Switzerland, and a noted authority on Porsche history.