This year's Monterey Car Week scheduled for mid-August will be one for the ages, as the granddaddy of all Porsches will go under the hammer.

Auction house RM Sotheby’s used Saturday's Luftgekühlt Porsche enthusiast meet in Los Angeles to announce the sale of the 1939 Porsche Type 64 at its Monterey Car Week auction, which runs August 15-17 in Monterey, California.

Porsche's history is a long and complicated one. The first true Porsche is quite a hard thing to pin down, since Ferdinand Porsche founded Porsche as an engineering firm and designed numerous vehicles long before his son Ferry Porsche built and registered the first Porsche 356 sports car in Gmünd, Austria.

That first 356 was built in 1948, but it wasn't actually the first car to carry the Porsche name. That honor goes to the Type 64, of which just three were built from 1939-1940. The one going up for sale is the third built and the sole surviving example.

1939 Porsche Type 64 - Image via RM Sotheby's

1939 Porsche Type 64 - Image via RM Sotheby's

Known officially as the Type 64 60K10, the cars were endurance racers originally designed to compete in the 1939 Berlin-Rome race, which was canceled due to the onset of World War II. This particular Type 64 was raced quite successfully after the war, though, with Austrian Otto Mathé typically behind the wheel.

The Type 64 was derived from the KdF-Wagen, the precursor to the Volkswagen Beetle, and it was designed by the same people who would later design the Porsche 356, including Ferry Porsche. They used aluminum and aircraft construction techniques for the body to keep weight down, and they also looked to aviation for the aerodynamics, resulting in the streamlined shape. Even the wheels came with removable alloy panels.

The first Type 64, chassis number 38/41, was built in 1939 before the war but damaged in an accident while being driven by Bodo Lafferentz, Volkswagen's boss at the time. A second Type 64, chassis no. 38/42, was competed in late 1939, and then the chassis of the first Type 64 that crashed was rebuilt into the car you see here in 1940. Both Type 64s were retained by the Porsche family during the war, though the second Type 64 was kept in storage most of the time while the third car was extensively used by Ferry Porsche and his father.

At the end of the war, American troops found the car kept in storage. They chopped the roof off and drove the car until it broke down, at which point it was scrapped. A number of components from the scrapped car were retained and used for a recreated version that now sits in the Petersen Museum.

1939 Porsche Type 64 - Image via RM Sotheby's

1939 Porsche Type 64 - Image via RM Sotheby's

Fortunately the Porsche family were able to keep the third car. Ferry Porsche himself applied the raised letters spelling out “Porsche” on the nose of the car in 1946, when he re-established Porsche after the war, thus making it the first car to carry the Porsche name. The Type 64 was soon sold, though.

Once Porsche turned its focus to the 356, the last remaining Type 64 was restored by Pininfarina founder Battista Farina before being sold to Mathé in 1948. The Austrian then proceeded to race the car for a number of years and would end up holding onto it until his death in 1995. In 1997, ownership passed into the hands of fellow Austrian Thomas Gruber, one of the most respected Porsche specialists worldwide.

The car is still in a very original state. It also has its original air-cooled flat-4 engine, rated at 32 horsepower, and even some of its original tools and spare parts are included in the sale.

Understandably, it's hard to put a price on a car like this. After examining the car, Porsche expert Andy Prill said: “I’ve seen countless special Porsches in my career, but nothing like this...This is the most historically significant of all Porsche cars and it is simply incredible to find the very first Porsche in this original condition.”