Check Out Porsche’s Answer to the Jeep
Porsche isn’t exactly known for making SUVs, especially the hard-nosed military SUVs. Sure, the Porsche Cayenne and Porsche Macan are both massive hits, but let’s be honest; these are basically just giant sports cars. We tend to think of Jeep, Land Rover, and Mercedes when the conversation of military 4x4s comes up. However, it turns out that Porsche had a Jeep Rival in the making during the 1950s. Meet the Porsche 597, AKA, the “Jagdwagen.”
Did Porsche ever make a 4×4 SUV?
America had the Willys, England had the Land Rover, and Germany had the Mercedes G Wagen. Wait, did we forget about Porsche? Nope. However, Porsche did make a 4×4 answer to the Jeep in the 1950s.
Ferdinand Porsche got some of his earlier experience by building 4x4s for the Nazi army in the Second World War. According to Silodrome, Porsche’s Nazi-supporting founder worked specifically on both the Kübelwagen and the (appropriately named) amphibious Schwimmwagen.
Porsche had made a few cars on his own by the 1950s. Most of them were for Nazis. However, after the war, the German military began looking for someone to build them a vehicle to fill the Jeep and Land Rover gap. After the open call, only three companies put out prototypes; Auto Union (DKW), Goliath (a Borgward subsidiary), and Porsche.
Although the DKW Munga won the bid, Porsche built 71 prototypes for the Porsche Type 597 Jagdwagen. Only about 50 examples are believed to exist still.
The Porsche Type 597 Jagdwagen
Ferdinand used his previous military vehicle building experience to inform the 597. Silodrome says that the four-wheel drive amphibious Schwimmwagen, which Porsche worked on, is considered a direct ancestor of the Type 597.
The Type 597 is significant for a few reasons. As with any early Porsche, collectibility is always a major factor. Not only is the Porsche Jagdwagen early, but it’s also the first Porsche 4×4. Although Porsche didn’t use this experience for many years, in 2002, Porsche debuted the Cayenne and later the Macan. Both of which would rise to become Porsche’s best-selling models.
The 597 used a stamped steel monocoque chassis that the Schwimmwagen highly influenced. As a result of its aquatic heritage, this chassis was essentially a watertight hull. Some versions ever came with propellers and oars.
In classic Porsche form, the Type 597 drew power from a 1.5-liter flat-four mounted at the back. This teeny engine only made 50 hp. The top speed was capped at 62 mph.
How much is a Porsche Type 597 worth?
Determining value for cars this rare and obscure is a little tough. The car shown here is set to hit the auction block with RM Sotheby’s this August. It is a 1955 model and production number 005 of the first batch of 22 prototypes.
This rare little nugget had a full restoration done in Germany so that the accent would be right. You can visit the listing here.