Porsche’s first sports cars had aluminum body panels, but it was nature’s lightest material that allowed them to shape its classic silhouette. The Porsche 356 got its shape from the panels which were beaten and rolled by hand into the desired shape, with a wooden frame used as a guide for proper alignment.
The original frame from the first Porsche production cars is still around and in good shape. It can be found at the Porsche Automuseum in Gmünd, Austria which was the first place all these cars were made before production was moved to Stuttgart, Germany.
The frame was called Holzklopfmodell, which is a German term for “hammered wooden frame”. But actually, the frame wasn’t pounded. It rather served as an example to help the factory workers attach and fit the aluminum body panels of a 356 body in exactly the right shape. This office work took roughly 90 hours according to Porsche’s estimations because it was quite difficult to get each door or fender to fit precisely on the frame.
Porsche first started building cars in 1948 in Gmünd, Austria. Out of those cars, 52 were made – 44 coupes, 8 convertibles and 8-10 special racing bodies called ‘super light’ that were put together at Porsche’s racing department in Stuttgart.
In 1949, Porsche changed from using aluminium to steel for their cars’ body parts. As steel is much tougher than aluminium, this allowed them to make body panels with presses and to create cars faster. The wooden frame which was originally used is still around today as a reminder of when the company first started.