APAL Porsche 1600 Coupe

A must-have for any collector of Porsches and its many interesting variants, this APAL (Application Polyester Armé de Liège) coupe appears at first glimpse to be a different version of the Porsche 356 Abarth Carrera, but in reality, it is a lightweight fiberglass-bodied coupe built atop a strengthened Volkswagen floorpan, and there is a lot of Porsche underneath. With a wheelbase a foot longer than that of a Porsche 356 but fitted with only two seats, the APAL GT offered very comfortable accommodation for driver and passenger, plus a great deal of interior luggage space. Their light weight and low center of gravity contributed to excellent handling as well.

While APAL founder Edmond Pery is best known for his dune buggies and replica Speedsters, the Belgian concern turned out about 150 of these attractive little coupes between 1961 and 1965, of which some 30 or so examples were fitted with Porsche 356 engines, transaxles, brakes, wheels, seats, instrumentation, and interior trim. Given that they weighed barely 1,400 pounds, much less than a 356 B coupe, the Porsche-powered APAL GT proved very effective in racing, hillclimbs, and rallies, including the famed Liège-Sofia-Liège contest.

The APAL factory in Liège suffered a major fire in 1969, and the company almost went out of business. However, Pery and his employees rebuilt the factory and went back to building dune buggies, which had proven very popular in Europe.

The car offered here is believed to have been delivered through Bendheuer of Cologne (“Hersteller Bendheuer” appears on the body plate) for racing in Germany. It passed through the hands of an owner in South Carolina before being acquired by noted Tennessee Porsche enthusiast Tom Trabue, in whose care it remained for some 30 years. More recently, it was acquired by a noted Southern California Porsche vintage racer, who embarked on a thorough mechanical and cosmetic restoration. The owner unveiled this rarely-seen and unusual automobile at the 2013 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, where its good looks attracted a great deal of attention. The rear-mounted engine is a 1600 Porsche Normal powerplant. The case number dates from 1957 production, but Mr. Trabue says it is very likely that Pery used whatever Porsche engines were available when he built his cars. The engine feeds a Porsche four-speed transaxle. Brakes are large Porsche drums at all four corners, which are very effective in such a light chassis.

This head-turning APAL GT, finished in red with red-piped black upholstery, would certainly be a unique entry for rallies, tours, and vintage races anywhere around the world.

Source: RM Auctions

Gallery: APAL Porsche 1600 Coupe