It`s hard to say exactly which is the beginning of Porsche
story. It could be in 1950, when the famous Max Hoffman
introduced the Porsche 356 to the United States. Or in 1948
when the first automobile to bear the name Porsche was introduced.
But in order to understand Porsche’s heritage and its philosophy
we need to go back to 1875, when, in September, at the home
of a tinsmith in the Bohemian village of Haffersdorf, a son was
born. His name was Ferdinand Porsche.
Since his adolescence, Ferdinand Porsche showed glimpses of
technical genius: at the age of 18, he wired family’s home for
electricity in 1893. Still, he didn’t show many signs of disciplined
engineering skills that will eventually become his trademark. Even
if the “Doctor” is usually appended to his name, it is in essence
honorary, since his only formal technical training was as a part-time
engineering student in Vienna.
By the age of 25, the young Ferdinand Porsche had entered the
field of automotive design. His first car design was already
accepted by Lohner & Co. of Vienna. Over the next 20 years,
Ferdinand Porsche, the temperamental but brilliant engineer
succeeded in associating with every major automobile manufacturer
in Germany. At the same time, he designed a dozen of the most
technically significant cars in history.
Working for Mercedes-Benz, he helped develop the most revered
Mercedes-Benz cars of all time: the SSK series. For NSU, he
designed Auto Union Wanderer and the Type 32, a precursor of the
After being dismissed from Mercedes for disagreeing with the firm’s
staid engineering policies, Porsche decided to establish what later
became Porsche A.G.: his own engineering consulting group. In a
small office in Stuttgart, the senior Dr. Porsche gathered a select
group of engineers to work under the dramatic name, «Doctor of
Engineering Ferdinand Porsche, Inc., Construction Facility for Land,
Air, and Sea Transportation.» One of his employees was his youthful
son, Ferry. His primary interest was one that any young man might
select: sports and racing cars
The senior Dr. Porsche and his team were kept extremely busy. The
consulting firm developed for Steyr (now the utility-vehicle wing of the
Steyr- Daimler-Puch combine), the Austria luxury sedan, but it did not
progress beyond the prototype stage. They worked a lot for Auto
Union, now Audi: the company developed the Front, the world’s first
front-drive economy car. They astonished Auto Union with the mid-engine
Grand Prix cars and their supercharged V-12 and V-16 engines
which, together with Mercedes- Benz racers, dominated European auto
racing for nearly a decade.
After that, the firm created its best-known designs for NSU and Zundapp.
The pair of prototypes was characterized by Dr. Porsche’s patented
torsion-bar suspension and a rear-mounted engine. Since neither
company moved rapidly enough to manufacture the designs, Porsche
sold the concept to the German government. Then, he oversaw the
construction of a plant on Wolfsburg to manufacture the design. His
drawings called the car the Type 60. The world came to know it as the
After the second World War, the Porsche Company started to create vehicles
that beard its name, and so became knows world wide. Now, nearly a
century later, Porsche became the marque and the family that created
outstanding, often unique and surely lasting contributions to automotive
engineering and design.