This is the actual Porsche model that kickstarted the company’s long running and fabulous motorsport saga – the 1951 356 SL Gmund Coupe being the first to snatch a class victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
This example is now back on the road following a long and extensive restoration process, lovingly performed by Rod Emory at Emory Motorsports – which is also known for delivering highly tuned 356 Outlaw models. Here the process was primordial in terms of originality – as Porsche had two 356 SLs back in 1951 at Le Mans, but this was the only surviving example after the other one crashed during practice. After the win and some other events in Europe, the model was delivered to the US where its roof was chopped and then raced like this for decades.
Emory Motorsports decided to return the 356 SL to its original condition, as they needed to 3D-scann on multiple other surviving examples to build a period correct unit. They even had to produce new fasteners for the wheel covers and even stuck a piece of tubing behind the passenger foglight because this was the way the car raced at Le Mans. We also have a set of great photos here, which deliver the stunning details about the Gmund Coupe – much better than in Leno’s video.
Photos via Drew Phillips Photography