The other 356


Basically a real Porsche
At first, Alexander Fritz only had a rusty car in front of him, origin unknown. In painstaking work, he not only reconstructed the bold history of the genesis of the ‘GDR Porsche’, but also restored the car itself.

At first glance, it almost looks like its original, the Porsche 356 – a curvaceous sports car model from the 1950s. Only at second glance do you notice: This “Porsche” is something special. 30 centimeters longer, four seats. Because the “Lindner-Coupé” is a replica of the 356, designed by two automotive engineering students in the GDR. In a mini-series, 13 pieces were manufactured by the eponymous body shop Lindner.

It is thanks to Alexander Fritz that one of these cars still exists and is even driving again. In his free time, the Austrian devotes himself to the restoration of vintage cars. A few years ago, a friend drew his attention to a copy of the GDR “Porsche”. In view of the condition of the rusty, rotten coupé, Fritz initially wanted to dismiss it. But the story behind the car without origin, the story of the vehicle construction students Falk and Knut Reimann fascinated him too much.

GDR Porsche, 2018, Porsche AG
This is what the “GDR Porsche” looks like after the extensive restoration

It begins in the early 1950s: the Reimann twin brothers dream of their own Porsche. You know that in the GDR this is an impossibility and you start to construct a “Porsche” yourself. With disused war technology, a lot of ingenuity and thousands of hours of work, they screw, knock and bend their dream car with the support of the body shop Lindners.

The heart: the engine

The heart of every Porsche is its engine. Although it is hopeless for the twins to procure parts for a sports car engine in the GDR, they do not give up. One of her first trips with the new car takes her directly to the Porsche factory in Zuffenhausen, where her imitation Porsche is viewed with skepticism and – because of its weak engine – a little mockery.

GDR Porsche, yard of the coachbuilder Lindner, 2018, Porsche AG
The first GDR Porsche on the yard of coachbuilder Lindner

Ferry Porsche personally learns about the brothers’ visit to the plant. In view of the cheeky Porsche fake, he is not particularly pleased at first. After initial skepticism, however, the recognition for the stubbornness of the brothers prevails. Ferry Porsche ensures that the twins’ car is properly roadworthy. In a letter, he tells them that used Porsche parts will be sent to them via West Berlin: With original pistons, cylinders and carburetors, the Reimanns’ coupé not only looks like a sports car, it also drives like one – at over 130 kilometers per car Hour.

Letter, 1956, 2018, Porsche AG
Ferry Porsche writes to the Reimann brothers

From 1954 the brothers toured Europe with their specially designed replica Porsche. The journeys end when Knut and Falk Reimann are sent to the Hohenschönhausen Stasi prison for two years in 1961 because of an attempt to escape. Their “Porsche” is taken from them and is lost forever.

But thanks to Alexander Fritz’ accidental find, one of the 13 Lindner coupés that were created is now shining in its old glory and with it the story of the Reimann brothers and their unbelievable project of building their own Porsche.


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