The record of the Otto Mathé Special is one of those vagaries of the 500
Before the War, Austrian Otto Mathé (1907-1995) was a motorcycle racer, but
a serious accident in 1934 left his right arm all but useless. He opened a
petrol station and during the War he made his living developing a range of
fuel and oil additives (the Mathé company survives).
Despite his disability, Mathé purchased a very early Porsche car after the
War and went racing. A 356 was added, and in 1952 he constructed a single
seater. Sometimes called the “Fletzenflieger” (“Scrap Flyer”), the car was
powered by a Porsche 1100cc engine, and used a selection of Porsche,
Volkswagen and Kubelwagen parts.
Although built to Formula II specifications, the Special adopted a layout
broadly similar to Formula III thinking – low, with a mid-mounted engine,
and about the same size as a Cooper Twin. Open-wheeled, it would on occasion
run with wings, giving it the appearance of a dune buggy. The car would run
successfully on tarmac, sand (trotting tracks being popular brace venues in
Austria) and ice. Mathé would be three times Austrian Champion, despite
having to develop a novel way of changing gear whilst steering.
The history of the car is rather unclear after 1954, but it is almost
certain that this is the car that attended the
Commander Yorke meeting at
Silverstone, 29th September 1956, where it was driven by Lothar Rafael of
Vienna, and fitted with a JAP engine. Quite why Lothar chose this race is a
mystery, no other appearances have been
recorded on this trip, nor of the car ever running in 500cc trim at home.
The restored car is on display at the Hamburg Prototype Museum
If you have any more information or pictures, please let us know.