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The load-down on this Mercedes-Benz transporter: Porsche commissioned it

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Photos courtesy Bonhams.

Of all the ways to load a car onto a truck for transportation, German utility truck builder Ruthmann may have come up with one of the oddest and yet most practical method for its so-called Gewichtsbilanz Schraeghubwagen, a truck that Porsche commissioned and that will cross the auction block this weekend.

Ruthmann, founded in 1901 and based out of Gescher-Hochmoor in North Rhein-Westphalia, for the most part builds hydraulic cranes for flatbed trucks, but in late 1982, the Porsche factory in Stuttgart approached the truck builder with a request to build a car hauler, presumably in search of a means of loading the sports car company’s low-slung vehicles that wouldn’t use ramps or other sharp breakover angles.

The mechanism that Ruthmann went with – the Typ SD 875 conversion – wasn’t exactly novel; the company had been installing it on Mercedes-Benz trucks for at least a couple decades prior and built similar “oblique lift” or what it now calls Cargoloader trucks to lift and place containerized cargo loads without need for a crane or other external equipment. From its road-going configuration first the system uses a built-in hydraulic jack to lift the rear wheels off the ground, then the rear wheels are pushed out away from the chassis so that when the hydraulic jack is raised, the body descends below the rear axle line and the rear wheels rotate upward. From this lowered position, the flatbed provides a minimal transition from the ground, allowing a winch to easily pull a vehicle onto the bed.

For the Porsche contract, Ruthmann chose a 1982 Mercedes-Benz 608 D (serial number 4461), a variant on the tri-star’s T2 heavy truck powered by an 84.5hp OM314 diesel six-cylinder engine. Normally rear-wheel drive, the 608 D had to be converted to front-wheel drive – apparently by using a transfer case and front axle from a four-wheel drive chassis – to adapt the SD 875 system.

Ruthmann had the conversion complete sometime around May of 1983, when it issued a spec sheet to Porsche noting the truck had a total payload capacity of 3,400 kilograms, or about 7,500 pounds, plenty enough for a 1983 Porsche 911 coupe’s curb weight of 2,756 pounds.

According to the Bonhams auction description for the Ruthmann-modified Mercedes-Benz, Porsche used it for an undisclosed amount of time to shuffle cars in and around the Stuttgart factory. While the truck runs, it appears in need of at least a thorough cleaning.

The Ruthmann-modified Mercedes-Benz is expected to sell for £25,000 to £35,000 ($35,000 to $50,000) when it goes up for bid with no reserve at this weekend’s Bonhams Goodwood Members Meeting auction. For more information about the sale, visit