• The Porsche 696 Beutler is a Swiss-Built Porsche Everyone Forgot About

  • Unlike most Porsche models, the 696 was not built in Germany, but in Switzerland It was the project of Ernst and Fritz Beutler - renowned coachbuilders from Thun that used to make bodies for Porsche, Lancia, Bristol, and Packard, among others
  • The Beutler was a mix of humble underpinnings and a sophisticated, handcrafted body The Beutler brothers used the chassis from a VW Bug. Meanwhile, the body was entirely made of aluminum, which was still rare in the 1950s
  • While most Beutler coupes used a modified VW Bug engine, at least one was powered by a Porsche flat-four This particular one has the engine from a Porsche 356 A. The 1.6-liter mill makes 75 hp and 86 lb/ft, which is enough for a top speed of 103 mph
  • At the same time, the 696 Beutler was a proper four-seater The monochrome interior was relatively spacious and flexible, allowing for 4 passengers to ride in relative comfort. Luggage space was also generous for a sports car
  • Very few examples of the Porsche 696 Beutler were ever made The Beutler brothers only made 5 examples of the Volkswagen-Porsche 696 Beutler.According to sources, the cars were sold exclusively for Switzerland where people could afford them and, nowadays, only 3 are said to remain
  • There was at least one Porsche Beutler Special At least one of the 5 cars is believed to have been a "Special". It featured a slightly more upscale interior, wit ha few Porsche touches and a slightly different rear end, with small fins continuing the taillights. The engine still came from a 356 A
  • Swipe up to learn more about the story of one of the most obscure Porsche cars ever made The Beutler 696 kept the art of coach-building alive, in times when it was dying out. Now, it's back again, but in the 1950s, the 696 Beutler was the first European 2+2 coupe, with a handcrafted body

The Volkswagen-Porsche 696 Beutler is Switzerland’s idea of a rear-engine Porsche from the 1950s

Throughout Porsche’s history, the 911 will remain its most definitive model. However, Porsche had other great cars and some of them, for one reason or another, remained in obscurity. This is exactly the case with the 1957 Porsche 696 Beutler, which wasn’t even built in Germany, in the first place. This is what we know about it.

It was built in Switzerland

The Porsche 696 Beutler is a Swiss-Built Porsche Everyone Forgot About
- image 1030138

The car, also referred to as Volkswagen-Porsche 696 Beutler, was actually built in Thun, Switzerland, by Ernst and Fritz Beutler, who were renowned coachbuilders. The Beutler brothers had established contacts at Porsche, since 1948 and were actually responsible for building the bodies of six of the very first Porsche 356 cars, including the oldest production Porsche – car number 003.

However, the brothers decided to make their own car that featured “an elegant coupe with four seats and superior engineering that drives like a sports car”.

The Beutler brothers started out at a repair shop

The Porsche 696 Beutler is a Swiss-Built Porsche Everyone Forgot About
- image 1030135

They founded their business right after World War II and initially did repairs on vehicles, damaged in accidents, in Thun, Switzerland. Eventually, they started attracting well-known customers, including Ferry Porsche. If that sounds familiar, the company RUF started in a similar way.

The Porsche 696 Beutler had humble underpinnings, but a lightweight body

The Porsche 696 Beutler is a Swiss-Built Porsche Everyone Forgot About
- image 1030134

After deciding they want to make their own car, the Beutler brothers acquired the chassis from a Volkswagen Bug and began crafting a suitable 2+2 coupe body, by hand. The body was made entirely out of aluminum. Back then, aluminum was difficult to work with, but the brothers had gathered experience through specially commissioned jobs, by Lancia, Packard, Bristol, and others.

It had a Porsche engine

The Porsche 696 Beutler is a Swiss-Built Porsche Everyone Forgot About
- image 1030132

Normally, that would go without saying, but history has documented a few Porsche models that were not powered by a Porsche engine. While most Beutler coupes were powered by a modified version of the VW Bug engine, this one has a proper Porsche engine. In particular, it has the 1.6-liter flat-four engine from the 1955 Porsche 356 A.

The engine was good for 75 horsepower (53 kilowatts) and 86 pound-feet (117 Nm). This was enough for the Porsche 696 to reach speeds of up to 103 mph (165 km/h), which was a respectable figure for the 1950s.

Porsche 696 Beutler specifications
Engine 1.6-liter flat-four
Power 75 HP
Torque 86 LB-FT
Top Speed 103 mph

It was practical and luxurious

The Porsche 696 Beutler is a Swiss-Built Porsche Everyone Forgot About
- image 1030133

While the overall aesthetics of the 696 may be a bit restrained for a coach-built body, the car was surprisingly practical and luxurious for its day. The cargo area (frunk) was quite generous and the single-tone interior was elegant, spacious, and finished in high-quality leather. It was also surprisingly flexible with folding rear seats that revealed additional luggage space.

There was a Porsche Beutler Special

At least one of the 696 Beutlers was a Beutler Special, which, meant a slightly different interior and a slightly different interior. The most notable difference was the fins, which "rose" from the taillights, similar to an Aston Martin DB5. The engine was still a 1.6-liter flat-four from the Porsche 356 A.

Why is it an automotive milestone?

The Porsche 696 Beutler is a Swiss-Built Porsche Everyone Forgot About
- image 1030136

Although only five examples were made from the Volkswagen-Porsche 696 Beutler, this was actually the first coach-built 2+2 coupe with decent performance figures (for the time), to come from Europe. Sources indicate that, out of the five cars made, only three still remain. One was, reportedly, crashed in a tree, while the other was left to rot. While coachbuilding is, once again, on the rise, this is one of the very few classic, four-seater coupes, from Europe, to feature a handcrafted body.

Dim Angelov
Dim Angelov
Born in 1992, I come from a family of motoring enthusiasts. My passion for cars was awoken at the age of six, when I saw a Lamborghini Diablo SV in a magazine. After high school I earned a master’s degree in marketing and a Master of Arts in Media and Communications. Over the years, I’ve practiced and become skilled in precision driving and to date have test driven more than 250 cars across the globe. Over the years, I’ve picked up basic mechanical knowledge and have even taken part in the restoration of a 1964 Jaguar E-Type and an Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint. Lately, I’ve taken a fancy to automotive photography, and while modern cars are my primary passion, I also have a love for Asian Martial Arts, swimming, war history, craft beer, historical weapons, and car restoration. In time, I plan my own classic car restoration and hope to earn my racing certificate, after which I expect to establish my own racing team.  Read full bio
About the author
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: