vintage porsche old photo on track

Porsche – History Of The Brand

Born on September 3, 1889 in the Bohemian town of Maffersdorf, Ferdinand Porsche could certainly be considered an innovator of the automotive movement. He initially became a plumber’s apprentice in his father’s business after attending the State Vocational School in Reichenberg, Austria. Plumbing was not in Ferdinand’s blood – automobiles were.

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By 1898 Ferdinand Porsche had already designed and built one of the first vehicles registered in Austria. A version of the car, called the Egger-Lohner Phaeton (P1) electric vehicle, was victorious at a major electric car race during the International Motor Exhibition in Berlin in 1899.

vintage photo of porsche owner

vintage back of porsche

By the turn of the century, young Ferdinand continues to hone his automotive creativity and garner international attention, when a Lohner-Porsche vehicle is presented at the World Fair in Paris, France. It stuns onlookers and experts alike with electric motors integrated into the wheel hubs. He also develops the world’s first electric/gasoline hybrid vehicle, as well as an all-wheel drive racecar around that time.

Recognizing the extraordinary talent of Ferdinand Porsche, Austro-Daimler recruits him as their Technical Director in Wiener Neustadt, Austria in 1908. At the age of 31, Ferdinand was resp0nsible for the entire line of a major European automotive concern.

In 1909, Ferdinand was blessed with a son. Ferdinand Anton Ernst Porsche, known as Ferry, was born in Wiener Neustadt on September 19. He would become a major player in the history of Porsche in decades to come.

The Austro-Daimler touring car, designed and driven by Ferdinand, scored a triple victory during the Prince Henry Trials of 1910.

By 1923, as Technical Director and Board Member of the Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (Stuttgart, Germany), Porsche designs the celebrated Mercedes Compressor Sports Car. The Compressor won the Targa Florio the following year. Porsche influenced Mercedes-Benz S-Type models continued to dominate international motorsport for many years.

Ferdinand steps out on his own in 1931 and opens an office for ‘engineering and consultation on engine and vehicle design’. He creates complete vehicles for such firms as Wanderer, Zündapp and NSU; while providing cutting-edge components and systems (such as the Porsche torsion bar suspension) for others.

In 1933, Porsche develops a Grand Prix racecar with a 16-cylinder engine, in a mid-sip configuration, for Auto Union. For NSU they create a compact car concept with a rear mounted engine. It is called the Type 32.

Porsche receives an order to produce a compact German vehicle (similar to the Type 32) in 1934. A year later, the first one is assembled in the garage of the Porsche villa, and driven through the streets of Stuttgart. It would become known as the Volkswagen ‘Ur Beetle’.

vintage back of porsche

Five years later, in 1939, the Type 64 was introduced in Zuffenhausen. Engineered as a long-distance endurance racecar, the Berlin-Rom-Wagen is considered the forerunner of future Porsche sports car models.

As a side effect of World War II, the Porsche KG engineering office was forced to move to Gmünd, Austria in 1944.

The second generation of Porsche car builders is recognized in 1946. Ferry is credited with the design of an all-wheel drive Grand Prix racecar. It was owned by Italian industrialist Piero Dusio.

The year 1948 would prove to be the most significant yet for the Porsche brand. The Porsche 356 (construction number), a mid-engine powered roadster, used modified Volkswagen parts but looked sporty and fast. Despite its small engine, the 356 had an excellent power-to-weight ratio and low drag. It was a delight to drive and featured a relatively short braking distance. In keeping with Ferdinand’s racing tradition, the 356 was entered in the Innsbruck Stadtrennen. Driven by Herbert Kaes, the tiny sports car achieved a victory in its class. The 356 is the platform that would bring Porsche to America and introduce the automaker to the rest of the world.

Porsche has continued a rich racing tradition with (among other things) a win at the 24-Hours of Le Mans in 2017.