1963 DKW-Porsche TM Special

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Lot 36
1963 DKW-Porsche TM Special

US$ 75,000 - 95,000
£ 57,000 - 73,000
1963 DKW-Porsche TM Special
American sports car racing in the 1950s and 1960s was filled with home-built specials, a more affordable alternative to costly European imports, and an opportunity for Yankee hot-rodders to show what they were capable of. The smallest-displacement classes, F, G and H Modified, provided venues for ingenuity and creative engineering to triumph. Power was derived from small production engines like Crosley, Porsche, Fiat, Panhard, and SAAB; there were even cars running Mercury and Evinrude outboard motors. Some were crude, some exquisitely finished. Then there was the TM (Thews Motors) Special.

Curtis Thews had been a mechanic for Studebaker in South Bend, Indiana, before opening his own VW and Porsche franchise. He'd gained experience racing in SCCA's production classes and had built a front-engined Crosley-powered H/Modified. Having access to Porsche's racing parts inventory, however, opened another door: he'd create his own small-bore sports-racer with Porsche power, mid-engined like the 550 Spyders he so admired. Starting in 1963, Thews began laying out a design for his special.

Rather than construct a tube frame, Thews started with the welded-up sheet steel perimeter frame from a DKW Junior, a little front-wheel drive sedan with inboard brakes. It was light and strong, even after Thews cut away everything extraneous. Settling on an 87-inch wheelbase, Thews added some round tubing for a rollbar and front battery support, and a new rear sub-frame to support an engine and transaxle. The front suspension remained largely DKW, incorporating Porsche 356 brakes. The rear suspension was taken from a 356 as well, with VW Transporter brakes. Centaur, a small racing shop in Detroit, supplied the fiberglass body. Thews then bought a pair of brand-new 1600cc Porsche Type 692 four-cam Carrera engines in Texas.

To compete in H/Modified, for under 850cc engines, Thews made one of his Carrera fours into a Carrera two. Removing one pair of opposing pistons and rods, machining special caps to block the appropriate oil passages in the crankshaft, blanking off the empty cylinders, removing lobes from two camshafts, and the no-longer-necessary valve train parts, Thews created a very effective four-cam twin of just under 800cc. Then he went racing. Not just in H/Modified with the twin, but in F, by swapping out the smaller motor and installing the 1600cc four-cylinder overnight.

The TM Special enjoyed a quite successful life competing across the Midwest, but it proved too heavy to be a consistent winner in H/Modified. Retired from racing, Thews' little machine became an autocross winner after a six-cylinder 911 engine was installed. In 2004, the car was sold to a West Coast collector, who in turn sold it to the current owner. Emory Motorsports was then entrusted with restoring the car for vintage racing. New Koni shocks were installed up front, with Koni coil-overs in the rear. A new, stronger rollbar was fabricated. The car was subsequently featured in the November 2008 issue of Excellence.

The TM Special as presented today is fitted with a flat-four engine prepared by Tim Morris at German Master Tech in Bend, Oregon, incorporating a 912 case and heads, Shasta pistons, and a Neutek cam. Morris says the new motor has break-in time only, and easily develops a hundred reliable horsepower. "In a chassis this light - barely a thousand pounds - it really scoots!"

The TM Special offers a rare opportunity to acquire a one-off vintage American racing special of unique design and excellent craftsmanship, complete with extensive documentation and period photographs, ready to deliver many hours of fun on the track.

Offered on a Bill of Sale.
1963 DKW-Porsche TM Special
1963 DKW-Porsche TM Special
1963 DKW-Porsche TM Special
1963 DKW-Porsche TM Special
1963 DKW-Porsche TM Special
1963 DKW-Porsche TM Special
1963 DKW-Porsche TM Special
1963 DKW-Porsche TM Special
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