This is the Porsche that started the company's motorsport legacy.
This 1951 356 SL Gmund Coupe was very the first Porsche to earn a class victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Now, the stunning vehicle is back on the road after a long restoration. Rod Emory at Emory Motorsports is best known for building highly tuned 356 Outlaws, but the work on this former racer prioritizes originality above all else. Take in a ride in this important Porsche in the latest clip from Jay Leno’s Garage.
Porsche brought two 356 SLs to Le Mans in 1951, but a crash by the other one in practice meant this was the only example in the actual race. When the checkered flag waved, the car had won the class and even beat a few racers with more potent machines. After a few more events in Europe, Porsche shipped it to the U.S, The new owner sawed off the roof as a weight-saving measure after a few races, and it competed that way for decades.
Emory Motorsports took on the laborious project of returning the 356 SL to its original condition, and that wasn’t a small feat. As a handmade vehicle, each one was slightly different, so the team 3D-scanned the roof on multiple examples and compared the results to period photographs. Then, they built a wooden buck and formed the top out of aluminum.
While the roof seems like the major work here, the devil is really in the details on this restoration. Emory Motorsports had to manufacture new fasteners for the wheel covers that replicated the originals. They even stuck a piece of tubing behind the passenger foglight because that was the way the car raced at Le Mans.
Please, take the time to check out the amazing photos of the 356 SL in the gallery below. They capture the Gmund Coupe in far more detail than Leno can show in his video, and the shots offer an amazing look at this special car.
Photos by Drew Phillips Photography