Icon: “Broom Porsche” – the German Customs Investigation’s Porsche
In the 1950s, customs investigators successfully pursued smugglers – in a Porsche 356 with brooms.
“High-Speed Chase through Downtown Aachen!” proclaimed the headline in the Aachener Nachrichten on December 15, 1951: a Porsche 356 from the German customs investigation authority dramatically pursued an Opel Kapitän through the West German border town. The reason: coffee. Called “brown gold,” the drink was an extravagance in luxury-starved postwar Germany and a tempting prospect for smugglers in the tri-border area between Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The police officers were in a Porsche with 50 hp, and later 70 hp; the driver had his foot on the gas, focused on the roller coaster that’s the Nürburgring; the passenger stood with the roof folded down for a better shooting position if necessary. The smugglers were armed with sharp tire-killers: caltrops, or “crow’s feet,” a welded arrangement of nails strewn about to destroy the tires of pursuers. There was only one thing to do: sweep.
Two brooms that could be lowered while driving were added to the body of the car. Initially they were mounted in place of the bumper; later, for better camouflage, they were hidden within a bodyshell specially extended for the purpose—and thus the “Broom Porsche” was born. Before retiring in 1954, when smuggling collapsed due to a state-ordered drop in the price of coffee, the car posted an impressive record against smugglers: forty-two arrests, thirty-six confiscated vehicles, and 36,883 kilograms of contraband recovered.