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1950’s Porsche/ VW English Special

I forgot to tell my wife I’d bought this car. There was a lot on at the time, I’d bought a few cars in a short period of time, etc. etc. so it just slipped my mind… honestly! We turned up to dinner at a friends place in another car and his wife came out to greet us, remarking “this is beautiful, is this the new car you’ve just bought?”. Of course I’d told my petrolhead friend, who had told his wife…. It was a fairly frosty drive home despite the heater being on! And so started a long and winding relationship with the Okrasa Special!

‘Specials’ are rare. Ones with Porsche and VW mechanicals even less common. English Specials built using German parts in early post-war Britain can probably be counted on one hand. But how often do you get to finish the build of a Special (as opposed to restoring one built in period) that was started in the glory era of sports car racing in the late 1950’s and that is effectively brand new? No, I haven’t heard of another and so I jumped at the chance when it came up for sale. The car was built between 1958 and May 1961 and was designed and built by accomplished engineer and racer David Small. David owned the Farnham Porsche and VW dealership (Barnet & Small) in Surrey up until the late ‘70’s and used all new parts from the dealership inventory in building the car. The car was driven down the old A31 in Alton, in Hampshire, England, in May 1961 as a bare chassis for shakedown testing, easily seeing 100mph before being pushed into the back of the dealership workshop where it then sat for the next 46 years! Racer and Classic Porsche magazine editor Keith Seume bought it from David Small years ago, and I purchased it from Keith in 2007. At this point the car had covered just 47 miles.

So a little bit of history on Okrasa. After Volkswagen had been rescued from the ashes of the Second World War three individuals began using Volkswagen mechanicals as a basis for hot-rodding and racing. Denzel, a formidable racer himself before the war, built almost 300 potent sports cars, culminating in the outright win of the 1954 Alpine Rally. Dr. Porsche, who immediately post-war clothed VW mechanicals in a aerodynamic body and then obviously went on to bigger and better things; and Gerhard Oettinger who in 1951 formed Okrasa, and specialised in performance parts for the VW engine, soon becoming the default engine provider for sports cars built by coachbuilders such as Dannenhauer & Stauss and Rometsch. So good was Okrasa that they even got the blessing from Volkswagen, ultimately being homologated for racing. I plan to complete what was started all those years ago and then take the car racing. It might not have a huge amount of power, but it’s fairly lightweight and should hopefully handle well.

Okrasa first try at ally mock up