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The biggest Porsche you ever saw: Tempo Mikafa Sport made camping fast(ish)

Published in blog.hemmings.com

Photos courtesy Mecum Auctions.

Of all the various one-offs, prototypes, and racing specials that Porsche engines made their way into over the years, perhaps none matched the girth of the limited-production Tempo Mikafa Sport camper van, one of which will head to auction this August in Monterey.

Camping is supposed to be about slowing down from the world’s maddening pace, taking the time to reconnect with nature on its schedule. So it would seem rather incongruous to power a camper chock full of home-away-from-home comforts with an engine better known for displays of speed.

Yet that’s exactly what German coachbuilder Mikafa decided to do in 1955. Based in Minden, Mikafa started out as an aircraft builder, but in 1948 – brought on by the disarmament of Germany after World War II – the company retooled as a coachworks and soon after company officials decided to put the workers’ experience building aircraft to use building strong and lightweight travel trailers on Hahn trailer axles.

From there it was a simple leap of logic for the company to start building motorhomes, so in 1951 it began offering built-to-order Reisemobiles on chassis provided by Tempo. Another pre-war German company that had to switch up its product offerings after the war, Tempo began offering the Matador trucks and vans in 1949, initially powering the trucks with 25hp Volkswagen flat-four industrial engines powering the front wheels from behind the front axle. By 1952, Volkswagen stopped supplying its engines, reportedly due to a contractual dispute, forcing Tempo to carry on with various alternatives.

While Tempo later offered its Matador chassis to Mikafa with Austin four-cylinder engines and even BMW V-8s, Mikafa also managed to order three Matador chassis with Porsche flat-four engines. Mikafa sold the resulting camper vans as Sport models and even placed Porsche badging on them, according to Mecum’s auction description of the one headed for sale.

While the headlamps and taillamps of the resulting camper vans give them a vague Porsche 356 look, the bodies, if anything, resemble puffed up Volkswagen Type 2s. With the Matador chassis, the Mikafa Sports remained front-wheel drive, which meant engine access via a hatch behind the front seats and amid the cabinetry.

The Mikafa coming up for auction, chassis number 145310, still sports its original kitchenette with folding table, stove, sink and Electrolux refrigerator; interior cabinetry; and two-tone paint. It apparently spent much of its existence in Germany before coming to the United States.

Mecum, which will offer the Mikafa Sport at its Monterey auction, has not yet released a pre-auction estimate for the camper van. Another Mikafa, a 1959 powered by the Austin engine and featuring a full complement of original supplies, sold in January 2017 for $132,000 against a pre-auction estimate of $150,000 to $200,000.

The Mecum Monterey sale will take place August 15-17. For more information, visit Mecum.com.