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  • Writer's pictureTim Jackson

Ferdinand Porsche creates legendary car brand

Updated: Nov 3, 2023

The Porsche Motor Company is a German automobile manufacturer that specializes in high performance sports cars, both sedans and SUVs. The company was founded by Ferdinand Porsche, a talented engineer and automotive designer who is responsible for some of the most appealing cars of the 20th century.

Ferdinand Porsche was born in 1875 in Maffersdorf, a small town in what is now the Czech Republic. He demonstrated an early aptitude for mechanics and engineering and began working as an apprentice to a local carriage maker at the ripe young age of 14. He later studied engineering in Vienna and worked for several companies in the automotive industry before deciding to strike out on his own.

Ferdinand Porsche was involved in the development of electric cars. He can be credited with creating one of the earliest functional hybrid vehicles.

In the early 20th century, Ferdinand Porsche was working for the Austrian automotive company Lohner. In 1900, he introduced the Lohner-Porsche Mixte Hybrid, which was a groundbreaking vehicle for its time. The Mixte Hybrid featured electric motors in each wheel hub, powered by batteries, along with a gasoline engine that acted as a generator to charge the batteries.

This innovative hybrid system allowed the Lohner-Porsche Mixte Hybrid to operate solely on electricity for short distances, making it one of the earliest electric cars. The gasoline engine provided additional power when needed, effectively extending the vehicle's range.

The Lohner-Porsche Mixte Hybrid garnered attention and accolades, even receiving a Grand Prix award at the 1901 Paris Exposition. It showcased Porsche's forward-thinking approach to alternative propulsion systems and his vision for the future of transportation.

Ferdinand Porsche founded his own engineering consultancy based in Stuttgart, Germany. The company was called Porsche GmbH and its initial focus was on designing and developing high-performance engines for other carmakers. One of Porsche GmbH’s biggest clients was the German government which commissioned Porsche to design a car that would be affordable and practical for German families.

The result of that was the Volkswagen (VW) Beetle (see chapter on Volkswagen), which was introduced in 1938 and quickly became one of the most popular cars in automotive history. The Beetle was designed to be simple, reliable and easy to maintain. The VW Beetle was sold at a price that made it accessible to millions of people around the world.

Despite the success of the Beetle, Ferdinand Porsche was always interested in building high-performance sports cars. During the 1940s, Porsche began working on a prototype for a new car that would be even faster and more powerful than anything available on the market at the time. The result was the Porsche 356 which was introduced in 1948.

The Porsche 356 was a two-seat sports car that featured a lightweight body and carried a rear mounted engine and a sleek, aerodynamic design. The Porsche 356 quickly gained a reputation as one of the best handling cars on the road, and it won numerous races and rallies around the world.

Over the next few decades, Porsche continued to innovate and push the boundaries of automotive design. On September 12, 1963, the Porsche 911 was unveiled at the Frankfurt International Motor Show and became one of the most iconic sports cars of all time. Full production began a year later in September 1964. The 911 featured a flat six engine, a rear mounted transmission and a distinctive shape that remained largely unchanged over the next 50 years.

The Porsche 911 was a huge and instant success and quickly became the flagship model for the company. Over the years, Porsche has introduced numerous variations of the 911, including the turbo, the GT3 and the Targa, each of which was praised for performance and handling.

Ferdinand Porsche once famously said, “I couldn't find the sports car of my dreams, so I built it myself."

In addition to the 911 Porsche introduced in production a number of other successful models. In the 1970s, the company introduced the Porsche 924, and the 928, both of which were front engine sports cars that were designed to compete with the likes of the BMW 3-series and the Mercedes-Benz SL. During the 1990s Porsche introduced the Boxster, a mid-engine convertible that was aimed at attracting younger, more style-conscious buyers.

Today, Porsche is one of the most successful and respected automakers in the world. The company remains headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, and it produces a range of high-performance sports cars, SUVs and sedans. Its lineup includes the 911, the Cayman, Panamera, Macan and Taycan, among others. The Taycon is an electric vehicle that was the first EV mass produced by Porsche and has been well received and popular. The massive technological advancements needed for the Porsche Taycan will prove adaptable to other all-electric models that are expected to follow.


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