Porsche: at the origins of the myth


At first I looked around, unable to find the car of my dreams. So I decided to build it myself“(Ferdinand” Ferry “Porsche).

Nothing can better describe the myth Porsche of this reflection, written by the creator of the first sports car with the name Porsche. The phrase captures the essence of what made the Porsche brand what it is today. It is the emblem of the values ​​that characterize the work of the Group and its products. But before we get to the creator of 911, Ferdinand Anton Ernst “Ferry” Porsche, we need to take a step back to Germany before and after the Great War.

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On September 3, 1875 he was born in Mafferdorf-Runder-Neisse, in Bohemia, Ferdinand Porsche. The son of a family of workers, Porsche had a strong vocation for physics, especially electricity. This vocation led him to work in Vienna in an electrical equipment company. In 1898 he entered Lohner, a factory of small cars driven by electric motors, where he designed the first hybrid electric / petrol engine in history. In those years he married Aloisa Kaes and from the marriage his daughter Louise was born, who then married the Viennese lawyer Anton Piëch, and Ferdinand Anton Ernst, nicknamed “Ferry”. Ferdinand Porsche continued to work in the automotive industry by directing the Austro-Daimler technical office, where he contributed to the Mercedes “SS” and “SSK” project. In 1926, after the merger of Daimler with Benz and some misunderstandings with the new management, Porsche went out to found his company.
design: “Dr. Ing. h. c. F. Porsche G. m. b. H. Konstruktionburo fur Motoren-Fahrzeung, Luftfahrzeung und Wasserfahrzeung”.


Ferdinand Porsche had a fixed idea: to design and build a car with high technological content, but with an affordable price even for the lower classes. Hitler liked the idea, which caught its propaganda value
and that commissioned Studio Porsche to design a low-cost, reliable, four-seater car with reasonable fuel consumption: the Volkswagen (“car for the people”). But after the production of some pre-series prototypes, the outbreak
of the Second World War ended development. At the end of the conflict, the Porsche family took refuge in Austria, a
Gmünd, a small town in Carinthia, while Ferdinand Porsche was incarcerated on charges of supporting the Nazi war industry.


During his father’s 20 months of arrest, his son Ferdinand “Ferry” Porsche began designing a small two-seater sports car. In post-war Europe, building a car required engineering: the first Porsche 356 it was fitted with a Volkswagen engine and components from all over. The first prototypes were painstakingly built completely by hand, forging the aluminum bodies on special wooden shapes.
There progenitor of Porsche cars she was born. A month after the first car left the factory, a 356
he won his first race.

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It was soon apparent that the company’s expansion possibilities in the small Austrian country were limited. Furthermore, after the release of Ferdinand the Porsche family was able to return to Germany. The series production of the 356 was made in Zuffenhausen, with the support of the Reutter body in Stuttgart. Ferdinand Porsche passed away on the 30th
January 1951, but he had time to see the first steps of the company run by his son “Ferry”, creator of the fabulous 356 and 911. Ferry Porsche had in turn four children, Ferdinand “Butzi”; Gerhard; Hans-Peter and Wolfgang. At first
they were all more or less involved in the family business, as well as Ferdinand Piëch, nephew of Ferry. Butzi devoted himself to the design of the first 911, while Ferdinand Piëch gave great impetus to sports activity in the second half of the 1960s, up to the design of the invincible Porsche 917. At the time, motor racing was the only test
to test the technical solutions to be transferred to production cars and the fundamental tool to build the image of a sports and winning car.


As customer sports cars spread on the streets, racing Porsche started to win on the
slopes all over the world. In 1951, the small 356 SL conquered a class a victory Le Mans; in 1956 the 550 Spyder got its first overall victory at the Targa Florio. The 1960s and 1970s saw a streak of victories at the 1000km race Nurburgring and the 24 hours of Daytona. In 1970 a 917 gave sports history the 1st overall position of a Porsche in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.


In the early 70s, the Porsche family faced a strategic choice: in a historical period in which family capitalism still dominated in Europe and companies passed from father to son, Ferry Porsche realized that among his children and grandchildren there was no one ready to take over the reins of the company. His son Butzi had founded his Porsche Design company; his son-in-law Ferdinand Piëch was heading towards a bright career in Volkswagen-Audi. Ferry then turned Porsche into a public limited company, remaining head of the holding with his sister Louise Piëch. This modern decision to entrust the responsibility to trusted external managers proved to be the right one to guarantee the longevity and success of the Porsche brand. The following years saw an expansion of the company and the range, also with models born in collaboration with the VW-Audi Group. The sporting victories of Porsche, in addition to the GT and Endurance categories, had extended to Formula 1, with the conquest of 3 editions of the Drivers ‘World Championship (1984-85-86) with the McLaren powered by TAG-Porsche, thanks to the Lauda-Prost combination, and two constructors’ championships (1984-85).


The 356 had reached 76,000 in 1965, but by the end of the 1950s dangerous competitors had materialized in the sports car segment, despite the powerful 4-cylinder engines that equipped the Carrera 4 versions. It was necessary to renew, while maintaining the ” family feeling “.

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The line design of the new Porsche was entrusted to Ferdinand Butzi Porsche. Completely new engine, 6 cylinders opposed as an alternative to the obsolete 4-cylinder boxer derived from Volkswagen. The objectives of the Tipo 901 project were set by Ferry Porsche himself: a real 2 + 2 seater coupe, more spacious, but smaller in size; more space for luggage; increased comfort and roadholding, going beyond the limits of the 356 chassis; engine with power similar to the Carrera 4, but more silent, docile and easy; easy maintenance. Streamlined aerodynamics, to make it Porsche had to buy the historical supplier, the Reutter body. The necessary funds were found by renouncing, in 1963, the participation in Formula 1. The pre-series models of the Porsche Tipo 901, presented at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1963, only came out at the beginning of ’64. But they had to change their name: the three-digit name with the central 0 had in fact been patented by Peugeot. Then Porsche replaced the 0 with 1 and the lineage of the legendary series was born 911.


The history of the Porsche family comes to the present day with Wolfgang Porsche, the youngest son of Ferry Porsche, for forty years the face of the brand and its most important ambassador. As President of the Supervisory Board, he oversees Porsche AG and the entire group.

Wolfgang, the youngest of Ferdinand Porsche’s grandchildren, saw his grandfather very rarely, but learned his moral values: “I feel personally connected to the family, the company and all employees. For the Porsche family and, therefore, also for me, people and employees are always the center of attention. These are the values ​​that my grandfather Ferdinand and my father Ferry have transmitted to me since the cradle. Porsche is not just a fast car, Porsche is a social system“. When in 1972 the father Ferry Porsche decided to withdraw the family from operational management, Wolfgang Porsche was the only one who did not have to resign because, being the youngest, he was not yet operating in the family business. After a bank internship Wolfgang Porsche became an entrepreneur and worked for Daimler-Benz from 1976 to 1981 to gain practical experience in the automotive field. At the request of his father, Wolfgang
joined the supervisory board of Porsche AG.

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At the beginning of the nineties the existence of the company went through a period of danger. The family found in Wendelin Wiedeking a skillful manager whose plan modernization, based on the Japanese model, shocked quite a few people in the historic Zuffenhausen factory. Equally revolutionary was the new orientation of the models: the
The board of directors drew up a bold vision for the future, with the approval of supervisory director Wolfgang Porsche.

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In March 1998, the latest air-cooled Porsche engine was produced. Ferry Porsche had taken over the air cooling system from Volkswagen and refined it up to the 450 HP of the 1998 Porsche 911 Turbo S, before it was abandoned due to noise and environmental reasons. When water cooling was also adopted for the Porsche boxer engine, many fans of the 911 were shocked. However, the new generation of engines laid the foundations for modern evolution. Ferry Porsche died on March 27, 1998. The choice as spokesperson for Wolfgang Porsche’s family, the youngest of the third generation, was a clear sign of investment in the future.

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