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Profile of 1949 Porsche Gmünd coupe 356/2-050

Anytime you watch a race of historic cars a couple of emotions can come over you. The first being elation at seeing all these priceless cars drive like they were made to drive, but the second emotion can catch up to the first, the fear that something might happen to one of these automotive treasures. Unlike a Nascar race where the crowd waits for a spectacular crash, no one wants to see a vintage car doing cartwheels. It takes a certain kind of guy who takes one of the rarest and earliest Porsches made and races it full out, luckily for us Porsche fans the Barrington Family produced two of these guys, Jim and his son Brian who both routinely race 1949 Porsche Gmünd coupe 356/2-050. Jim explains why they run the risk racing the Gmünd.
“We have had people suggest that we shouldn’t race the Gmünd coupe because of its value. It is one way I enjoy the car, my son’s a good driver and its something we can do together.”

Family first, can’t argue with that, but I wonder if Jim is adopting?
Jim’s name in the Porsche world is Gmündmeister, a lofty title and one of sheer audacity, if you didn’t know how many Gmünd’s he has owned.
“In total, I have owned 5 Gmünd’s, now just the one, chassis’ no 32, 41, 45, 50 and 57…and all at one time, but no longer. Of these cars I wish I still had no 57…it and number 50 are my favorites”, says Jim.
The one Gmünd left standing in the stable of Barrington was like a lot of the early Porsches, living in Sweden.
“The Gmünd, chassis 50, was acquired in the late 80’s with the help of a German friend who located the car in Sweden. I purchased the car through him and brought it back to the US,” explains Jim.

The fact that Jim and Brian still race it is in a sense paying homage to the history of the car, it was said to have early racing history. Jim tells the story this way,
“This car came out of Sweden and was ‘reputed’, but not validated, to have run in the Swedish Midnight Sun Rally in the early 50’s. It has been extensively raced in the states by my son Brian, in vintage automobile road racing. Currently it has been prepared for that use and that is the way he will present it.”
Jim’s collection does not stop at Porsches, his tastes are varied but what he owns does follow a path that wanders somewhere between his heart, brain, and wallet. Jim gives us a glimpse into the breadth of his collection.
“I am a ‘car’ guy, but I will admit Porsche’s are my main passion. As a result I have collected over the years all kinds of stuff, including Porsche’s, some of which I still have and others I have since sold or traded off. The military vehicles were sort of a side light because my son liked off road vehicles (he owns a bunch of FJ-40 Landcruisers). We more or less concluded that bigger was better (and badder), so started getting into the military stuff. The Alvis Spartan tank and halftracks are at his house so you didn’t see them during your visit. I was always interested in the looks of the very early body bumper cars.”

Jim was ahead of the curve for the pursuit of these early Porsches, long before they were bringing big money Jim and a select few guys were chasing and collecting them. Jim explains,
“Back in the late 60’s there were very few guys who had the same interests…I can remember, Vic Skirmants, Bob Raucher and a couple of others who were into these cars, but very few guys were. Skirmants set me up with chassis 057, shortly there after I bought chassis 41 from bill Jackson. I had a German friend who lived in Denmark. He traveled around in the Nordic area and sourced chassis 32, 45 and 50, which I bought or horse traded for.”
But like I said before, the collection is varied.
“I have tended to acquire groups of the same cars because of an interest in a particular model or marque…thus the Gmünd’s, the speedsters, the split window VW collection, the arcane car collection (Messershmits, Kleinshnitgers, Issetas etc), and Husky motorcycles”, says Jim.
This is not even getting into the Military stuff or the old American Hudson’s. Jim collects what moves him and goes after it with gusto. Much of his collection does not see the light of day. I was lucky enough a few years ago to go his is warehouse, or private museum and see much of the collection for myself, it was dazzling, to say the least. But the public will get a chance to see the Gmünd 050 at the upcoming Porsche Race Car Classic in Carmel California on October 16th.
It is nice to see in a world of names that don’t live up the hype there is one that does, that of Gmündmesiter, Jim Barrington.

For more information on the Porsche Race Car Classic go to:

—Adam Wright

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