From the moment Porsche became a recognized manufacturer, one success followed another, both when it comes to models for the racetrack and those designed for the open road. In fact, the Zuffenhausen manufacturer has an incredibly rich history, which helped make it the true legend it is today, a well-deserved honor.
The German brand has managed to make its way into all areas of motorsports and engineering, thanks to numerous innovations which are now present on its road-legal vehicles. Porsche Lauzon, your Porsche dealership in Laval, on the North Shore and the rest of the Greater Montreal area, is proud to shed a light on the rich history of the Porsche brand, celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. Read on below to find out more!
Although Porsche is turning 75, its story began much earlier.
Porsche, as a manufacturer, was born in 1948; this is an undisputed fact. However, the epic tale of the Zuffenhausen manufacturer began long before. In fact, its story is intertwined with that of Ferdinand Porsche, to whom the German brand owes its name.
Born on September 3rd, 1875, in Maffersdorf –which was a North Bohemian town– (now called Liberec and located in Czech Republic), Ferdinand was an incredibly gifted child who, very early on, had a true passion for technological advancements and the inventions that stemmed from them. He was, among other things, very much interested in electricity; so much so that his house was the very first one in Maffersdorf to be equipped with it. Fun fact: this was possible because Ferdinand invented an electric generator at the very young age of 15 for his home! This passion for electricity also served him professionally, given that Ferdinand created the very first hybrid car in all of history, the Lohner-Porsche, which was produced between 1900 and 1905.
His story then began diversifying: he was hired as Head Designer for Austro-Daimler, before becoming the Technical Director at Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft. This is where, in the 1920s, he designed competition cars with compressors, which stood out among all their competitors. In 1929, however, he left Daimler-Benz due to an internal conflict, only to create his own firm two years later.
So, according to several Porsche amateurs, Porsche was really created in 1931 and not 1948! This is reinforced further by the fact that Ferdinand’s son, Ferdinand Anton Ernst Porsche –nicknamed “Ferry” –, joined his father’s automobile design firm the very same year, after a brief career at Bosch which had begun in 1928. As his father’s right hand, Ferry quickly gained in experience by working on major projects (Type 360 and participating on the design of the legendary Volkswagen Beetle).
This same Beetle served as a starting point for the design of the very first Porsche in 1948, the 356. In fact, this vehicle was the result of Ferry’s passion for the automotive industry. Unable to find the car of his dreams, he poured himself into designing and producing his own model, thus taking Porsche from a simple automobile designer to a full-blown manufacturer.
The Porsche 356, or the beginnings of Porsche as an automobile brand.
As you can see, it was thanks to Ferry Porsche and his 356 that his father’s design firm became a stand-alone manufacturer. This event was not the result of mere chance; on his 75th birthday, Ferry Porsche told the story of how he came about designing the 356: “The impulse was given by Cisitalia, if we’re being honest”. Ferry does believe that the Italian manufacturer, who was producing this small sports car with a Fiat engine, was where he got his idea for the 356 concept. That is when he thought: “Why not do the same with Volkswagen components?”
In fact, Porsche had already completed a very similar project with the Porsche Type 64, designed to enter the Berlin-Rome race in September of 1939; an event that never took place. However, three cars were built with aluminum bodies made by hand by Reutter Karosserie (known today as Recaro).
The 356 design work began in spring 1947, following Ferry’s first ideas. As early as 1948, a full chassis was produced. The body was made of aluminum, just like the Type 64, while the body type was one of a roadster. The flat-four engine with which it was equipped, along with the transmission and shock absorbers, among other things, came from VW. The engine was positioned in the center behind the driver and offered 35 horsepower; as for the car it weighed no more than 585 kg. The first 356 had a top speed of 135 km/hr. In June 8th 1948, the 356-001 became the very first vehicle in all of history to bear the Porsche name.
From that moment on, the first copies of the 356 came out of the Gmünd production lines, in Austria, during the second semester of 1948. They too had an aluminum body. However, they were different from the Porsche 356/1 Roadster because of the engine layout, as, from there on, the engine became rear mounted. The reason for this was very simple: allowing for cargo space behind the front seats.
Real mass production began in 1950, in a factory in Zuffenhausen, in Stuttgart. Porsche took advantage of this relocation to replace the aluminum body with a steel one, which was both less expensive and easier to work with.
The Porsche 356 evolved several times through different series (356 pre-A, A, B, C) improving the model each time, especially when it came to the engine (it went from 35 HP on the first models to 155 HP on the 356 Carrera 2000 GS/GT). It was also commercialized with different body styles (coupe, cabriolet, Speedster) for a total of 76,302 copies made from 1948 to April of 1965.
Finally – and most importantly – the 356 helped to position Porsche, from the very beginning, as a very serious competitor in motorsports. Light and maneuverable, it made more powerful vehicles green with envy. Among other races, it won the European Rally Championship in 1953 and 1961, along with the Liège-Rome-Liège in 1952, 1954, 1957 and 1959. It also allowed Porsche to shine at the 24 hours of Le Mans in the 1.1-Liter class, both in 1951 and 1952. As you can see, from the start, it allowed Porsche to enter the Automotive Hall of Fame.
The Porsche 911: the car that has been representing Porsche’s DNA purest form for over 60 years.
The Porsche 356 was a pioneer, marking the beginning of a long line of emblematic models that have left an indelible mark in automotive history. In 1963, Porsche presented the 911, which quickly became the most iconic model the brand offered and remains so, even to this day. The 911 evolved greatly throughout the years, although it always maintained its unique features: a timeless design and a rear-mounted flat-six engine.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Porsche branched out with models like the 914, the 924, the 944 and the 928, which all served as alternatives to the 911, featuring front-mounted engines and more modern designs, among other things. These models have also greatly contributed to Porsche success in races and competitions, thanks to several victories in different categories.
More recently, Porsche has diversified the brand by introducing models like the Cayenne –a sporty SUV- and the Panamera –a luxury sedan–. Both models have allowed Porsche to reach a wider range of buyers and by doing so, to consolidate its position in the luxury vehicle market.
Yet the German brand has not forgotten its roots when it comes to motorsports and car racing as it continues to develop models that are designed with solutions from competition testing and R&D, like the 911 GT3, the 911 GT2 RS and the 918 Spyder, a hybrid supercar. Porsche also continues to shine in international competitions, like the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where it holds the record for most victories.
In short, since its very beginnings with the 356, Porsche has known how to evolve and adapt to the times, while also remaining loyal to its DNA and passion for innovation and performance. The brand’s success both in competition and on open roads is a testament to Porsche’s expertise and know-how, celebrating proudly its seventy-fifth anniversary this year.
Several festivities throughout the world, celebrating Porsche 75th anniversary!
With such a rich history and a range of vehicles that includes sedans, SUVs and premium sports cars, and an electric and electrifying future, the Zuffenhausen manufacturer has every reason to stand tall and proud!
Several events will be taking place around the globe to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Porsche, all under the pioneer spirit, passion for the automotive industry and – mostly – with a hint of what it means to dream big. In any case, this is what Oliver Blume, Chief executive officer of Porsche AG but also for the Volkswagen group, wishes to bring forth: “We will be celebrating together, with all of those who feel inspired to follow their dreams”.
Celebrations have already begun in Germany, with the “Driven by Dreams. 75 years of Porsche Sports Cars” exhibition, which opened its doors to the public on January 27th 2023 at the “DRIVE. Volkswagen Group Forum” in Berlin. This exhibition, accessible to the public until September 10th 2023, will allow visitors to take in the Porsche vision and rich history. They will also be able to record their own dreams and values thanks to a digital module.
Porsche also wanted to create a concept car for this special occasion: the Porsche Vision 357. This magnificent tribute to the 356 can also be seen in Berlin. It creates a fine balance between tradition and innovation, in order to answer this question: What would Ferry Porsche’s dream sports car look like today?
According to Michael Mauer, Porsche Chief Designer, through its curvy design elements, this concept-car clearly demonstrates the essential touches the 356 brought to the German manufacturer’s styling DNA. The “357” is also a study which aims at combining past, present and future for the manufacturer. In fact, while its size reminds us of the historical model, the details of the design give us a sneak peek of what we can expect in terms of future styling elements for Porsche. As for the present, it is represented through the platform on which the 357 is based on, which is the same as for the current 718 Cayman GT4 RS, with 500 horsepower (PS).
The 75 years of Porsche sports cars will also be celebrated at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles and at the Swiss Museum of Transport in Lucerne, Switzerland. A truck that was specially designed for this anniversary year will also make its way to 60 different locations in North America and in Europe. The 75 years of Porsche around the world will end with the “Rennsport Reunion” automotive festival, which will take place from the 28th of September to the 1st of October 2023 in California.
Would you like to find out more about Porsche Canada events that will take place in the province and in the country for the seventy-fifth anniversary of Porsche? Contact one of our specialists at Porsche Lauzon, your Porsche dealership in the Montreal area and in Laval, on the North Shore of Montreal.