Just a few weeks ago, Porsche organized a race just for tractors—and on Laguna Seca nonetheless—showcasing what is one of the most eccentric agricultural machines in its history, namely the Porsche P312 (aka Coffee Train) tractor you see here. And the driver line-up was just as enticing as the idea itself, ranging from avid collectors and NBA legend Dwyane Wade to Patrick Long, one of the top racing champions in the company’s recent history.
I can still remember the day when I learned that Porsche used to make tractors. Along with my surprise, I wondered if this was a tiny fraction of the carmaker’s history or a more serious part of its activity.
Well, Ferdinand Porsche had designed tractors before WWI, many years ahead of founding his company, which happened in 1931. However, serious production of Porsche tractors wouldn’t commence until after WWII. Porsche had multiple tractor designs and licensed another German company, Allgaier, to produce them. And, between 1947 and 1955, when production ended, Allgaier had made around 40,000 Porsche tractors.
Subsequently, Porsche’s diesel engine design and Allgaier’s tractor design were bought by German specialist Mannesmann. The latter invested in a top-notch production site and built another 120,000 units, with the last Porsche tractor rolling off the production line in 1963—hey, here’s a Lamborghini tractor from that era.
All in all, 160,000 Porsche tractors were built over the decades and the P312 mentioned in the intro is one of the most eccentric. That label is for collectors, of course, as the “fuselage” covering the vehicle serves a purely practical purpose—spoiler alert: it’s not racing.
The Porsche P312 Coffee Train was designed for Brazil’s coffee farms, with its streamlined bodywork ensuring minimal intrusion as the tractor moved among the coffee plants.
Sporting an Allgaier chassis, the P312 left diesel behind in favor of a gas engine that would be cleaner, as preserving the flavor of the coffee was paramount. Thus, it uses a 1.8L engine that makes 24 hp. And a mere glance at the thing will let you know why it’s called Kaffeelug or Coffee Train. Of course, the shape and color scheme mean some of you may see a bit of Oscar Mayer’s Wienermobile here.
According to various sources, between 220 and 300 units of the Porsche P312 tractor were built in the 1950s. However, as explained by Mark Foster, president of California’s Lyon Air Museum, in the video below, less than 25 units of the agricultural vehicle survive today.
Rennsport Reunion 7’s tractor race
Since 2001, Rennsport Reunion has hosted the world’s largest meeting of Porsche classic racing cars, being held once every three to five years.
And 2023’s Rennsport Reunion 7, which stuck to the Laguna Seca tradition that saw the event moving from the East to the West Coast back in 2011, took place between September 28 and October 1.
As mentioned above, the gathering included a Porsche tractor race, which is now a tradition. And, thanks to the Porsche Vimeo clip below, you can see former NBA player Dwyane Wade taking (the) center seat in a red Porsche Junior tractor and heading onto the track. Following three championship titles and an MVP title, the star is now enjoying post-retirement life.
Porsche tractors may have only reached a top speed of 15 mph (25 kph) during the race, but the giggles were guaranteed. And the Porsche P312 that Dwyane Wade raced against in the Junior he borrowed was driven by its owner, namely racer, director, and overall Porschephile Jeff Zwart—this is the very example detailed in the museum video above.
How much do Porsche tractors cost
Knowing which Porsche cars make good investments has become a science in itself. Well, based on auctions held over the past few years, Porsche tractor prices have been mostly stable.
Of course, the price of a Porsche tractor depends on the model and its condition, but $20,000 is a fair value for a “regular” one in good condition. What about the streamlined toy that brought us here? Well, I found there was a Porsche P312 Coffee Train for sale over in Brazil back in May 2019. Listed on Brazilian Classic Cars, this was offered for EUR32,500 ($36,421 at that time’s exchange rates). For the record, it looked like it had severe rust issues, albeit reportedly coming with a working engine for the money.
1957 Porsche AP18 Pink Pig tractor has two wings
Another model that rivals the P312’s quirky looks is the 1957 Porsche AP18 “Pink Pig/Lowenbrau” tractor you’ll find below. A custom job of more recent date, this holds a massive wing up front and one at the back, where you’d normally find field work accessories.
Then there’s the livery, which nowadays is split 50/50 between two iconic Porsche endurance themes: the Pink Pig (think: early 1970s 917/20) and Lowenbrau (962 C of the 1980s). The contraption was modified by Gunnar Racing team, a crew led by Kevin Jeannette, who’s been restoring Porsche race cars for 45 years. Tipping the scales at 2.3 tons (5,070 lbs) and with its diesel engine making all of 23 hp, this beast will give you all the time in the world to admire its sporting presence.
The body of the Porsche AP18 (images courtesy of Florida’s Revs Institute museum) carries the name of American pop rock legend John Oates, who has manhandled the machine at multiple Rennsport Reunions—including this year—as a testament of just how far Porsche tractor culture has spread.