Porsche type 597 Jagdwagen

The type 597 Jagdwagen off-roader was introduced in the 1950s for use by the German army and is now one of the rarest Porsche models in existence.

The Porsche type 597 Jagdwagen came into being as a result of a 1953 call for tenders with respect to the development and production of a lightweight, high-performance off-roader for the future German army. After Auto Union (DKW), the Borgward subsidiary Goliath and Porsche all submitted tenders, the designs of the three rival bidders were subsequently pitted against one another on 19 January 1955 as part of a presentation in Bonn. Further presentations were held over the following months, for example on the premises of the British Army of the Rhine.

The type 597 included a modified four-cylinder boxer engine from the Porsche 356 that provided 50 horsepower. The rear axle was driven via a synchronised four-gear gearbox with an additional off-road gear and it was also possible to activate front-wheel drive during a journey. Although the car weighed around 870 kilograms, this all-wheel drive functionality enabled it to cope with almost any off-road situation and overcome inclines of up to 65 per cent.

The lightweight off-roader was even able to navigate rivers where necessary, as its amphibious features meant that it could be hauled across bodies of water. In terms of standard driving, the excellent handling and 100 kilometres per hour top speed of the Jagdwagen ensured thoroughly positive driving dynamics. This was accompanied by the typical sound of the air-cooled four-cylinder boxer engine that had gained widespread familiarity through its deployment in the Porsche 356.

The Jagdwagen passed the German army tests with flying colours. However, Goliath and Porsche were only able to deliver a further 50 units for test drive purposes to the German army, which was officially founded on 12 November 1955. For financial reasons and in accordance with labour market policy, it was ultimately Ingolstadt-based Auto Union that won the commission.

Porsche built a total of 71 units of this off-roader, of which around 50 are still in existence today – making the Jagdwagen one of the rarest Porsche models around. Most of its owners are now part of the Porsche Jagdwagen Registry, which may well be the smallest Porsche Club in the world.

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