"In the beginning I looked around but couldn’t find the car I dreamt of, so I decided to build it myself"
- Ferdinand Porsche
I will die a happy man if I am ever able to build something as gorgeous as this. Though I'm not sure that I'm capable of it. Read the story by Tom Strongman about the car above.
John Muller restores the Pupulidy Porsche SpecialPhotos and story by Tom Strongman
The Pupulidy Special may have only one seat, but John Muller knows that every time he drives onto the track for a vintage sports car race, the spirit of Emil Pupulidy rides with him.
Pupulidy grew up on Long Island and built P47 fighter planes for Republic Aviation in the 1950s. He raced motorcycles and loved fast cars. While traveling in Europe in 1952, he visited the Porsche factory and bought a brand-new Porsche coupe. He shipped it home and raced it in local events. In 1953, Pupulidy decided to build a sports car of his own, and he fashioned it after the streamlined Mercedes-Benz racers he had watched in Europe. He designed a shapely fiberglass body and mounted it on a modified Volkswagen chassis. He called it the “Beast,” and it won its first race in 1954 at the Nassau Speed Weeks in the Bahamas. The curvaceous body was quite heavy so Pupulidy took it off and made a lighter one. In late 1955, Pupulidy turned his attention once again to the streamlined body. He created a tube-framed chassis, stamped it PUP 1, and installed a Porsche engine. He sold the car without racing it. PUP 1 had a number of owners and even sat abandoned behind a New Jersey gas station for a while. Muller, of Kansas City, saw the unusual little car while browsing through the race car section of Hemmings Motor News in 2003. Even though he didn’t know exactly what it was, he knew instinctively that it was worth preserving. He bought it from Matt Willoman in Croton-on-Hudson, New York. The car was in pretty dismal shape, and Muller turned to his friend, Brian Haupt of Carriage and Motor Works, Kansas City, for a complete restoration. Haupt replaced many of the rusted frame tubes and fabricated a lighter weight fiberglass body after creating a mold from the original. Muller then had Cox Motorsports of Kansas City install a 1600cc Porsche engine. He calls the car “the Pupper. Muller, who started racing vintage sports cars in 1988, has a special affinity for unique sports racers. He had Haupt restore a one-off 1957 Tojeiro and a Cooper-Porsche nicknamed “the Pooper. In 1999, Muller was injured while racing the Pooper. At the urging of his wife, Kathy, he hung up his helmet for a while and sold the Pooper a couple of years ago. Now he races the Pupper three or four times a year. Muller and his wife Kathy are founders of the Muller + Company ad agency. Old race cars are pure art to Muller, and he loves bringing them back to life. When he takes to the track at the Monterey Historic races in August, surrounded by vintage racers worth millions of dollars, he will proudly give one more ride to Emil Pupulidy’s dream.