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Porsche’s founder, the Austrian Ferdinand Porsche started out in the automobile business by working in the LohnerLohner-WerkeAustria, 1821 > present company as a car engineer. While still young, F. Porsche captivated the industry’s attention as the Lohner-PorscheLohner-Werke Semper VivusAustria, 1900 > 1901 electric car debuted in the 1900 World Fair in Paris, for he created the wheel hub engines. Later in that same year, he built up both a four-wheel drive race-car and the world’s first hybrid petrol/electric car.
In 1906, a 31-year old Ferdinand Porsche starts as Technical Director at the Austrian headquarters of the DaimlerDaimlerGermany, 1889 > present company, Austro-DaimlerAustro-DaimlerAustria, 1899 > 1933, being in charge for one of the most important European automaker’s model lineup. Ferdinand Anton Ernst Porsche, otherwise known as ‘Ferry’ Porsche, who is Ferdinand Porsche’s son and would follow the Porsche automaker company, was born 1909.
Ferdinand Porsche designed the renowned 2.0L sports car Mercedes Compressor, in 1923, which would be very successful as a race car, winning the Targa Florio race. He worked for many years as an engineer for other German car brands, but in 1930 he decided it was time to open up his own business, as an automobile industry consultant, both on engines and car design. His firm would be registered as Porsche AG, a sports car manufacturer with headquarters placed at Stuttgart, Germany.
Anyway, he carried on being the man behind the other brands’ success, inclusively as a car designer for the German military for the time of the World War II. He also designed a Grand Prix race-car for Auto Union in 1933, whose rear-engine concept would then be integrated in the legendary Volkswagen Beetle. The first car ever to be registered under the Porsche nameplate was the Porsche 64Porsche Type 64Germany, 1939 > 1939, made in 1938, which was in great part based on VW Beetle components. However, it was never a production/selling car.
At the end of the War, in 1944, due to the critical economic conditions in the capitulated Germany, Ferdinand Porsche moved his office to the small and remote village of Gmünd, in the Austrian province of Carinthia. In such remote place, no patrolling troops would find anything uncommon. Ferdinand Porsche had soon revealed his interest and taste for fast and sports cars. Around 1947, an ubiquitous Porsche car started being made, clearly based on the Porsche-designed Volkswagen lines, as well as on the VW engine, gearbox and suspension. This second Porsche-made car, the Porsche 356Porsche 356Germany, 1948 > 1965, would also be his first production vehicle ever to carry the Porsche badge. This light-weighted sports car was publically launched in 1948, in coupé and convertible shapes.
After 49 Porsche cars were built, the company moved back to Zuffenhausen, in Stuttgart, Germany, where more qualified workers could be found as they were required for series manufacture. Less than a year later, in 1951, Ferdinand Porsche dies and his son Ferry Porsche inherits the German car company. After years of evolvement, the company’s cars were already 100% made with Porsche-built pieces and engines, like for example the 356 model that used to be VW-based.
Now with a dedicated factory built, it wouldn’t be long until Porsche started making its way into motorsport, competing in rallies and road races. The Porsche company clearly committed to the sports cars manufacture in order to race in many competitions. Consequently, racing-induced fame of the Porsche cars made sales rise healthily and the North American market opened up for Porsche. However, Porsche sports cars weren’t exactly purpose built for the rally tracks, so Ferry Porsche decided the company would create a real racer. The agile and fast two-seat Porsche 550Porsche 550Germany, 1953 > 1956 Spyder debuted in 1953 at the Paris Salon, as a result of the company’s efforts.
The company indeed achieved some success in motorsport events, such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans, especially through the 550 Spyder. The company took a rather clever step when they delivered this racer on the production car market, as it provided yet another boost for the company’s profits. With a model range that included coupés, cabriolets and racers, along with tractors and military vehicles, the car company was building its way up to the top, in the fifties.
Improvement efforts were nonstop for Porsche. That includes the release of the Porsche Carrera in 1955, at the Frankfurt auto Show. That name was chosen for its engine had been in used in the race cars that were very successful on the popular and deadly-dangerous Carrera Panamericana (Mexican Road Race). Almost a decade later, in 1963, the air-cooled, rear-engined Porsche 911Porsche 911Germany, 1963 > present finally saw the light of day, also debuting at the Frankfurt Auto Show. Ever since, the 911 became the most famous and successful Porsche model, both in sale rates and on the racing circuits. This powerful road car won competitions like the Monte Carlo Rally.
As mentioned, Porsche had used several Volkswagen components on their cars production in the past. In the 1970’s, Porsche and Volkswagen were famous for collaborating with each other and creating a few number of VW-Porsche models. Along with the car production, F. A. Porsche (Ferdinand Porsche’s grandson and Ferry Porsche’s son) decided to open up his own design company, Porsche Design. The design company currently integrates a vast line of different deluxe products other than cars. Plus, all this time, the automaker continued on providing consultancy services on motor engineering to some other brands, such as DaewooDaewooRepublic of Korea, 1967 > present, SeatSeatSpain, 1950 > present, SubaruSubaruJapan, 1953 > present, StudebakerStudebakerUnited States of America, 1868 > 1966, YugoZastavaYugoslavia, 1853 > present and even Harley Davidson.
In the automobile industry, Porsche was actually responsible for designing the Tiptronic transmission, which is an automatic kind of car transmission. The Porsche 964Porsche 911 Gen.2Germany, 1989 > 1993 was the first model to bear this feature and soon that gearbox variant started coming as standard for every model. Porsche stood out by adding daily-driving reliability and long-lasting quality to their high-performance sports vehicles. Besides, the company beneficiated from a good financial stability and managed to maintain its car production within Germany, while many other automakers moved out of the country due to the German post-War chaotic economy.
From 1990 onwards, Porsche started learning and being assisted with the Japanese production technique, as provided from ToyotaToyotaJapan, 1937 > present as a result of an agreement between the two brands. Toyota is now also responsible for providing hybrid technology to the Porsche vehicles. A luxurious sports SUV would be launched by Porsche in 2002, under the name CayennePorsche CayenneGermany, 2002 > present. It was released when a new Porsche factory opened in Leipzig, Saxony. Then, in 2005, Porsche bought 18,65% of the Volkswagen Group shares, percentage that would rise up to nearly 31% by 2007, proving an even narrower bond between the two German car brands. Besides, Porsche became Volkswagen’s controlling shareholder.
In 2006, New York’s Luxury Institute elected the Porsche brand as the most prestigious luxury automobile manufacturer. Porsche’s most powerful engine ever to be made is still the one that supplies the Carrera GT, which explains why that’s clearly the most expensive of all Porsche models. However and despite no clear explanations were given by the company, Porsche stopped the production of the Carrera GT in 2006.
The most “basic” model of the Porsche’s current range is a roadster called BoxsterPorsche BoxsterGermany, 1993 > present. The Porsche 911 keeps the title of most legendary Porsche model to date. Nowadays, the brand’s automobile business is still run by the Porsche family descendants.
The Porsche emblem was originally designed by Ferry Porsche and, later, refined by Erwin Komenda, starting appearing on every Porsche car since 1952 and being their worldwide trademark ever since. The company only began thinking about creating an emblem when their official american importer, Max Hoffman, requested them to, claiming the brand was rather poor without a symbol.
Then, in the beginning of the 1950’s, Ferdinand Porsche and his son Ferry, along with their loyal partners, decided that the Porsche badge would have to suggest both their headquarters’ location (Stuttgart) and an energetic and powerful image. They started out the sketch bearing in mind the Porsche’s location, which was at that time a region called Württemberg-Baden. They used its crest as background, with its red and black colors and curving stag horns.
The team also intended that the logo reminded people about Stuttgart’s history by inserting a wild black horse, which reported to that city’s past as originally a stud farm, besides expressing a forward thrusting energy. The group of designers also added the word “Stuttgard” as yet another way to state their connection with the city that received them and the brand. Ultimately, on top of the shield-alike composition, the word “Porsche” crowns the badge.
The father of the brand, Ferdinand Porsche, would die on January 1951, therefore he didn’t make it to witness the final design for the emblem nor did he see it all over his company’s cars. The legendary badge would only make its first appearance on the Porsche 356 in 1952. It has remained the same up until nowadays.
It’s been 60 years that the Porsche Racing Department has been sustaining the racing stamina of the Porsche sports car firm. Motor sports have always been very present in the brand’s history and many, many successes have been counted in several types of racing competitions. Along these years, a huge number of titles and first prizes were won by Porsche, actually over 23 thousand wins to be more precise. Here stand only the most important ones.
Porsche’s first sports car, the Type 356 from 1948, was intentionally built in order to achieve high speed rates over a low weight, low air resistance and a humble car size. This model could reach 84 mi/h (135 km/h). Aluminum-made and just slightly adapted, these Porsche coupés marked the brand’s ingress on the motor racing world.
Porsche’s sports cars started out showing off their racing qualities on the famous Carrera Panamericana and in the Targa Florio. Almost accidently, in the early 50’s, the 500 Spyder would bring home the champion title from the 3000 km long-distance Carrera Panamericana race. In fact, the 500 Spyder overcame the 124 mi/h (200km/h) there, thanks to its low weight. Porsche models would later be built to adopt the names of these races – the Carrera and the Targa.
Porsche would actually be quite successful in races all over Europe, especially in rally competitions. In 1951 at Monthéry, the company had its opportunity to show off their cars’ high speeds and reliability, as their coupé drove through a record-breaking 72 hours period. Also, races like the Monza, the Sestriere rally, the Belgrade Grand Prix, the Alpine Rally, the long-distance Liège-Rome-Liège rally and the ice race in Zell am See, were all stages for the Porsche cars to prove their winning skills, in the first half of the 50’s.
The sophisticated long-distance Targa Florio race is the one championship where Porsche engraved a legend with its countless triumphant participations. From 1956 to 1973, Porsche racers won 11 Targa Florio’s first place, starting with the harmonious shaped Porsche 550 Spyder in 1956. In 1964, it was time for the model that F. A. Porsche (Ferdinand Porsche’s grandson) designed, the 904 Carrera GTSPorsche 904 Carrera GTSGermany, 1964 > present, to gather Porsche’s fifth overall victory at the Targa Florio.
More victories would follow for the Carrera GTS, namely at the Tour de France, the 1000 km race around the Nürburgring, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Reims 24 Hour race. Also, road racing skills were well proven by this car when entering the Monte Carlo Rally in 1965.
In 1964, the technologically advanced Porsche 911Porsche 911Germany, 1963 > present had finally been introduced and in 1966 a 906Porsche 906Germany, 1966 > present Carrera 6 based on the 911’s engineering would win the 50th Targa Florio championship. In the following year, the Targa Florio would be taken over with triple victory by 910 prototypes. Then, in 1973, after several top places and double victories from Porsche, it was time for the 911 Carrera RSRPorsche 911 Carrera RSR T...Germany, 1974 > present to enter the Targa Florio to win it. The 911 Carrera RSR would win anything that was possible to in 1973, and later in the GT class.
At the end of the Targa Florio as a world championship, Porsche proved to be undoubtedly the most successful automobile brand of all participating at that race. Another legendary sports race car, the Spyder RS 60, made its first appearance in the United States’ 12 Hours of Sebring, finishing in first. The brand would also begin quite successfully racing on the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, in 1970 with the champ Porsche 917Porsche 917Germany, 1969 > 1981, and would, along the years, collect a sum of 16 overall victories, which no other brand did in that race.
The 917 also brought home the title for the World Constructor’s Championship and for the 1973 Canadian-American Championship series (also known as CanAm). In the CanAm series, where almost anything is permitted in terms of engine volume and the use of superchargers, the 917 made it to the first, second, third and sixth place. In the Daytona 24 hour marathon, Porsche models proved to be quite successful too, winning trophies for overall victories in 1973, 1995, 1996, and a GT class victory in 2002 with the 911 GT3 RSPorsche 911 GT3 RSGermany, 2001 > present.
The first turbocharged Porsche model to ever win a competition was a 1977 Porsche 936 that won the Le Mans that year. The following year, a private driver’s 911 SCPorsche 911 SCGermany, 1978 > present would win the rough Monte Carlo Rally. The thirtieth anniversary of Porsche running on the Le Mans 24 hour marathon, in 1981, was indeed celebrated with yet another champion title of the famous long-distance race.
The 911 Turbo was practically invincible on several FIA Cup race and hill-climb events. Then, Porsche models 956Porsche 956Germany, 1982 > 1985 and 962Porsche 962CGermany, 1985 > present were dominant on the automobile racing during the 80’s decade, winning five team, manufacturers and drivers world championships and six Le Mans races. At the Paris Dakar Rally, Porsche manages to be the first sports car to lead the rally that had always been dominated by all-terrain kind of vehicles. The 911 SC Carrera won the Paris-Dakar twice, having been the 1986’s victory a double one.
Some Porsche cars have also entered the Formula One contest, but high costs and less than successful participations have led the brand to abandon the competition, although a few private drivers kept on participating until 1964. It was not until almost 20 years later, in 1983, that the automaker would return to the F1 competition, this time as an engine supplier for the McLarenMcLarenUnited Kingdom, 1963 > present team. The engines that were developed and built by Porsche were labeled Techniques d’Avant Garde (TAG) and a McLaren-TAG Porsche achieved an F1 record in advantage points, winning the constructors’ world championship.
In 1985, a McLaren-TAG Porsche was Formula 1 world champion and another one was 24 Hours of Le Mans winner (8 Porsches finished in the top ten). Its V6 engine proved to be the finest blend of power, reliability and fuel economy. Also in the 80’s, Porsche introduced the 944Porsche 944Germany, 1982 > 1991 Turbo Cup, starting the one-model race tradition with barely modified sports cars. In 1986, model 962C finishes in first place at the Le Mans and for the first time a four-wheel drive race car enters that competition, the 961Porsche 961Germany, 1986 > present model. With an outrageous output of 900 hp, Porsche-made TAG Turbo cars occupy several top places in the 1987 Formula 1.
From 1990 on, the 944 Turbo Cup is replaced by the fresh new Carrera Cup and Supercup series, carrying on with the one-make racing tradition and using factory-supplied Porsche 911 Carreras. Near-to-standard production Porsches also caused sensation in the United States, especially with a 911 TurboPorsche 911 TurboGermany, 1990 > present and a 944 S2Porsche 944 S2Germany, 1988 > present winning IMSA titles. In 1991, Porsche once again tried to make a comeback to the Formula 1 competition as an engine provider to Footwork, but only terrible results were achieved, for which Porsche has never again entered the F1 series ever since.
The 1994 Le Mans, however, was over again a Porsche-ruled competition, which was repeated in 1996. Since the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Porsche has enjoyed some major triumphs in the GT classes of a lot of international racing championships. 2002 is indeed a year of big success for Porsche, winning the two most important car racing series in the world, the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) and the FIA GT Championship, on the wheels of the 911 GT3 RS model.
Financial costs have made Porsche drop its factory racing series at the beginning of the new century and start betting on private drivers in other competitions. In 2005, a rather potent RS Spyder debuts at the final stage of the ALMS and Porsche finishes in fifth place.
Up to today, Porsche tots up several brand and team championships, drivers’ and manufacturers’ world titles and thousands of races to its beyond successful path in automobile sport. In so many countries, national sportscar championships have been won by Porsche vehicles. Besides, the company has had its own races, like the Porsche Cup and the Porsche Pirelli Supercup, in which individual drivers compete against each others at the wheel of Porsche-only models.