May 3, 2018 at 6:26 am #4337
A rather battered 356 stops next to the AGIP fuel tankers for some repairs during a rally…but wait, it’s not a 356! It’s actually an example of that rather obscure Austrian make, a Denzel. Manufactured throughout the 1950s by Austrian garage proprietor Wolfgang Denzel, these sporting convertibles used VW components but made the natural progression to Porsche power for better performance. The damage allows us to see that this one of the later alloy cars (initially they had been steel, a further performance handicap) with the one-piece windscreen that looks as though it may also have been borrowd from a Porsche too.
Photo: Ted Walker Archive
As well as being rallied the cars were also to be seen competing on the circuits, not only in Europe but also in the USA, where none other than future Ferrari GP driver Richie Ginther was racing one in 1957. Also in America, one was raced extensively by two lady drivers, Louise Caneo and Kathering Bliss and in Britain the unique RHD example was used in rallies and races by Edgar Wadsworth, the private entrant who also used three 356’s widely. Wadsworth’s Denzel is still in the hands of the family and is well advanced in its restoration.
This picture shows the similarities to and differences from the 356.
December 24, 2018 at 3:07 am #5572
From the son of owner Edgar Wadsworth via PPP member Peter Settle comes this great image of EW’s Denzel and the following information. The car is shown at a time control when competing on the Yorkshire Rally in a picture that EW also used as a Christmas card one year. He had the car in parallel with his 356 ownership and while its registration number shown here is from May 1956, when he bought it new in 1954 it was registered W 421 689 in Vienna, a normal Wein number. Porsche apparently saw Denzel as something of a threat, as Wolfgang Denzel’s son says that they put pressure on VW to cease supplying the company with parts.
It is good to hear that the restoration work on this car is progressing, albeit slowly!
Photo: John Wadsworth
January 5, 2019 at 5:21 am #5629
A very rare but unfortunately brief piece of colour film of the above car in action on the 1958 Coupe des Alpes can be found HERE, 17 minutes in. It shows the crew not quite making it around a hairpin due to Annie Soisbault (in shorts and gesticulating) having spun her Triumph and it being stuck on the inside of the bend. Extensive 356 user Denis Jenkinson, who was one of the drivers for the filming on the stages, can be seen slowing down the competitors.
Other Porsche interest in the film is provided by the 356 Speedster of Claude Storez and the whole thing is well worth watching from beginning to end for a fascinating insight into rallying in those days. Given that the cars were little modified and the roads tough if not downright dangerous it is unsurprising that there is a fair amount of damage to be seen, but you have to admire the competitors for taking on this demanding event.
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