History of Porsche: A Legendary Legacy of Speed and Precision
1948 – 1950 – Marked by War
Although the history of the German manufacturer officially begins with the development of the model 356 (1948), the truth is that years before, Ferdinand Porsche had already designed several projects for other brands through his own engineering office. His is the Volkswagen Beetle, the vehicle from which the first Porsche acquired their features.
In the Austrian town of Gmünd that, in the summer of 1947, Ferry Porsche began to build the two-seater roadster with a rear engine and aluminium chassis based on the Volkswagen project that his father had started.
In February of the following year, the 356 “No. 1” is ready to roll and competes in Innsbruck – it gets the best result in its category – as a set-up for its later production.
The 356/2 prototype follows it, also created based on an aluminium chassis designed by Erwin Komenda: in 1950, there were already 52 units manufactured in a coupe and convertible versions. This growth means that production returns to Stuttgart a year earlier, where, in the 1930s, Ferdinand had set up his engineering office.
1951 – 1960 – The Volkswagen heritage
Once production is moved to Germany, the steel begins to be used as a raw material to construct the 356’s chassis. Production is modest (about 100 units per year), although it rises to 25,000 units a decade later. In the mid-50s, Ferry Porsche considered it necessary to manufacture a new model in line with the air of modernity that is already beginning to breathe in the brand.
The idea is to disassociate itself from Volkswagen’s heritage regarding engines and components: the only heritage the 356 replacement should retain is the drivetrain placement and air cooling. Porsche’s ultimate goal is to create a more exclusive and powerful model.
Meanwhile, the successive generations of the 356, A, B and C, increase by thousands the number of units produced and, with them, the success of a brand that has not yet become a dream factory.
1961 – 1970 – The birth of a myth: 911 arrives
After studying different solutions to design the replacement for the 356, the proposal of Ferry’s eldest son, Ferdinand Alexander, prevails. This approach causes the father to discard his idea of a four-seater sports car favouring a more aggressive aesthetic, which remains undaunted today in the second generation of the 997 series.
Thus was born the project known as “901”: a coupé 2 + 2-seater with a 6-cylinder boxer engine developed by Ferdinand Piëch, Ferry Porsche’s nephew. The prototype can be seen at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1963, although the presentation of the production model did not take place until October 1964.
It changes its name from “901” to “911” because Peugeot claims its right to the three digits with the zero in the middle for its models. The 911 coupe, which shares its beginnings with the latest 356 series, is followed mid-decade by newly minted variants such as the Targa, halfway between the coupe and the convertible.
1971 – 1980 – The age of power
Little by little, Porsche increases its research capacity. This fact motivates it to expand its facilities and move certain operations to the Weissach Development Center. The Stuttgart brand has begun to develop increasingly powerful variants. Between 1972 and 1973, he produced the 911 Carrera RS 2.7, a version that can easily be homologated for competition.
A year later, the 911 Turbo, 912, 924, and 928 were born; the last two stand out for having a different concept than the 911 since they are powered, respectively, by a 4-cylinder in-line engine and a V8 ( both positioned in the forward position ). On the other hand, the 928 also becomes the first sports model chosen, “Car of the Year in Europe” (1978).
1981 – 1990 – Rise like the Phoenix
In the early 1980s, the 911 era is thought to have ended, especially with the arrival of 928. However, the iconic model is making a comeback more vital than ever. In the middle of the decade, the mighty 959 is presented, which, thanks to its 450 hp boxer engine, exceeds 300 km / h.
It was debuted at the Paris-Dakar in 1985. In total, 292 units of the “Über-Porsche” (Super Porsche) are produced. Coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the launch of the 911 in 1988, the Carrera 4, the first model equipped with an all-wheel drive, was presented. Two years later, it was offered in the Coupé, Targa, and Cabrio versions. In addition, on these exact dates, the third generation of the 911 Turbo was born, corresponding to the 964 Series.
1991 – 2000 – New Airs
The decade does not bode well for promising results. However, the presentation of the Porsche 911 993 at the Frankfurt Motor Show (1993) begins a very successful stage for the German manufacturer. With this model, other variants subsequently emerge -in addition to the Carrera RS (300 hp) and the GT2 (430 hp), lighter and more resistant materials are used for the construction of the chassis, such as aluminium.
Likewise, new solutions are emerging, such as the Tiptronic S automatic transmission, which has practically lasted to this day. In this decade, the Boxster was also born, a model built with the 911 996 to take advantage of the most resources (see the teardrop-shaped headlights).
In 1997, the 911 996 was definitively presented; It is considered a breakthrough in automotive engineering applied to sports cars: a 6-cylinder, four-valve boxer drive, and water cooling for the first time. During these years, the current president, Wendelin Wiedeking, began his administration.
2001 – Act – David eats Goliath
The arrival of the Cayenne in 2002, Porsche’s first “sports SUV,” brings with it the opening of a new plant in Leipzig and, once again, criticism from defenders of the purity of the German brand. However, the figures reveal the opposite: the SUV, built in cooperation with Volkswagen, becomes a bestseller and raises the brand’s profits like foam.
The second generation, introduced at the end of 2006, incorporates the PDCC (Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control) system for the first time. Other novelties of the first decade of the XXI century are:
- The Cayman, a model halfway between the Boxster and the 911.
- The latest Panamera, the first four-door Gran Turismo from the German manufacturer.
- The first diesel model, the Cayenne, is the result of group synergies.
- The Macan little brother to the Cayenne.
In addition, Porsche already has hybrid variants of the Cayenne and the Panamera. Today, Porsche holds more than 50% of the Volkswagen Group’s shareholding, making it one of the most substantial companies globally. In addition, the firm is expected to continue its climb to reach 75% of the shareholding.