Ferdinand Porsche

Ferdinand Porsche

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Ferdinand Porsche was an Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

n automotive engineer
Automotive engineering
Modern automotive engineering, along with aerospace engineering and marine engineering, is a branch of vehicle engineering, incorporating elements of mechanical, electrical, electronic, software and safety engineering as applied to the design, manufacture and operation of motorcycles, automobiles,...

 and honorary Doctor of Engineering
Doctor of Engineering
The Doctor of Engineering is an academic degree awarded on the basis of advanced study and research in engineering or applied sciences...

. He is best known for creating the first hybrid vehicle (gasoline-electric), the Volkswagen Beetle
Volkswagen Beetle
The Volkswagen Type 1, widely known as the Volkswagen Beetle or Volkswagen Bug, is an economy car produced by the German auto maker Volkswagen from 1938 until 2003...

, and the Mercedes-Benz SS/SSK
Mercedes-Benz SSK
The Mercedes-Benz SSK is a roadster built by German automobile manufacturer Mercedes-Benz between 1928 and 1932. Its name is an acronym of Super Sport Kurz, German for "Super Sport Short", as it was a short wheelbase development of the earlier Mercedes-Benz S...

, as well as the first of many Porsche
Porsche
Porsche Automobil Holding SE, usually shortened to Porsche SE a Societas Europaea or European Public Company, is a German based holding company with investments in the automotive industry....

 automobiles. Porsche designed the 1923 Benz Tropfenwagen, which was the first race car with mid-engine, rear-wheel drive layout.

He made a number of contributions to advanced German tank designs: Tiger I
Tiger I
Tiger I is the common name of a German heavy tank developed in 1942 and used in World War II. The final official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. E, often shortened to Tiger. It was an answer to the unexpectedly formidable Soviet armour encountered in the initial months of...

, Tiger II
Tiger II
Tiger II is the common name of a German heavy tank of the Second World War. The final official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. B,Panzerkampfwagen – abbr: Pz. or Pz.Kfw. Ausführung – abbr: Ausf. .The full titles Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf...

, and the Elefant
Elefant
The Elefant was a "schwerer Panzerjäger" of the German Wehrmacht used in small numbers in World War II. It was built in 1943 under the name Ferdinand, after its designer Ferdinand Porsche. In 1944, after modification of the existing vehicles, they were renamed Elefant...

 as well as the super-heavy Panzer VIII Maus
Panzer VIII Maus
Panzerkampfwagen VIII Maus was a German World War II super-heavy tank completed in late 1944. It is the heaviest fully enclosed armoured fighting vehicle ever built. Only two hulls and one turret were completed before the testing grounds were captured by the advancing Soviet forces.These two...

 tank, which was never put into production. In 1937, Porsche was awarded the German National Prize for Art and Science
German National Prize for Art and Science
The German National Prize for Art and Science was an award created by Adolf Hitler in 1937 as a replacement for the Nobel Prize . The award was designed by Müller-Erfurt and created in the form of a pendant studded with diamonds...

, one of the rarest decorations in Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

.

In 1996, Porsche was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame
International Motorsports Hall of Fame
The International Motorsports Hall of Fame is a Hall of Fame dedicated to enshrining those who have contributed the most to auto racing either as a driver, owner, developer or engineer...

 and in 1999 posthumously won the award of Car Engineer of the Century.

Early life


Ferdinand Porsche was born to German-speaking parents in Maffersdorf , northern Bohemia
Bohemia
Bohemia is a historical region in central Europe, occupying the western two-thirds of the traditional Czech Lands. It is located in the contemporary Czech Republic with its capital in Prague...

, during the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, today in the Czech Republic
Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe. The country is bordered by Poland to the northeast, Slovakia to the east, Austria to the south, and Germany to the west and northwest....

.

He showed high aptitude for mechanical work at a very young age. He managed to attend classes at the Imperial Technical School in Reichenberg
Liberec
Liberec is a city in the Czech Republic. Located on the Lusatian Neisse and surrounded by the Jizera Mountains and Ještěd-Kozákov Ridge, it is the fifth-largest city in the Czech Republic....

  at night while helping his father in his mechanical shop by day. Thanks to a referral, Porsche landed a job with the Béla Egger Electrical company in Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

 when he turned 18. In Vienna he would sneak into the local university whenever he could after work. Beyond auditing classes there, Porsche had never received any higher engineering education. During his five years with Béla Egger, Porsche first developed the electric hub motor.

Early career


In 1898, Porsche joined the Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

-based factory Jakob Lohner & Co, that produced coaches for Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria
Franz Joseph I of Austria
Franz Joseph I or Francis Joseph I was Emperor of Austria, King of Bohemia, King of Croatia, Apostolic King of Hungary, King of Galicia and Lodomeria and Grand Duke of Cracow from 1848 until his death in 1916.In the December of 1848, Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria abdicated the throne as part of...

, as well as for the kings of England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

, and Romania
Kingdom of Romania
The Kingdom of Romania was the Romanian state based on a form of parliamentary monarchy between 13 March 1881 and 30 December 1947, specified by the first three Constitutions of Romania...

. Jakob Lohner had begun construction of automobiles in 1896 under Ludwig Lohner in the trans-Danubian
Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

 suburb of Floridsdorf
Floridsdorf
Floridsdorf is the 21st district of Vienna, Austria .Floridsdorf is located in the northern part of Vienna.The District Office and the centre of Floridsdorf are located round Am Spitz, at the junction of Prager Straße and Brünner Straße .Since 2004, Floridsdorf has had its own tower: the...

.

Their first design, unveiled in 1898, was the "System Lohner-Porsche", a carriage-like car driven by two electric motor
Electric motor
An electric motor converts electrical energy into mechanical energy.Most electric motors operate through the interaction of magnetic fields and current-carrying conductors to generate force...

s, directly fitted within the front wheel hubs, and powered by batteries. This drive train construction was easily expanded to four-wheel drive
Four-wheel drive
Four-wheel drive, 4WD, or 4×4 is a four-wheeled vehicle with a drivetrain that allows all four wheels to receive torque from the engine simultaneously...

, by simply mounting two more electric motors to the rear wheels as well, and indeed such a specimen was ordered by the Englishman E. W. Hart in 1900. In December that year, the car was presented at the Paris World Exhibition
Exposition Universelle (1900)
The Exposition Universelle of 1900 was a world's fair held in Paris, France, from April 15 to November 12, 1900, to celebrate the achievements of the past century and to accelerate development into the next...

 under the name Toujours-Contente. Even though this one-off vehicle had been commissioned for the purposes of racing and record-breaking, the 1,800 kg of lead acid batteries it required graphically illustrated the limits of this powertrain concept. Though it "showed wonderful speed when it was allowed to sprint", the weight of its huge battery pack meant that it was singularly reluctant to climb hills and suffered from limited range due to limited battery life.


Still employed by Lohner, Porsche reached the logical conclusion and in 1901 introduced the "Mixte
Lohner-Porsche Mixte Hybrid
The Lohner-Porsche Mixte Hybrid was the first hybrid vehicle developed in 1901 by Ferdinand Porsche. It was a series hybrid using wheel hub motors mounted in each wheel, and powered by electricity delivered from both batteries and a small generator....

" vehicle/transmission concept: instead of a massive battery-pack, an internal combustion engine
Internal combustion engine
The internal combustion engine is an engine in which the combustion of a fuel occurs with an oxidizer in a combustion chamber. In an internal combustion engine, the expansion of the high-temperature and high -pressure gases produced by combustion apply direct force to some component of the engine...

 built by the German firm, Daimler, was fitted to a generator to drive the electric hub motors and (for vehicle reliability) a small battery pack. This way Porsche had created the first petroleum electric hybrid vehicle on record, although since sufficiently reliable gears and couplings weren't available at the time, he chose to make it a series-hybrid
Hybrid vehicle
A hybrid vehicle is a vehicle that uses two or more distinct power sources to move the vehicle. The term most commonly refers to hybrid electric vehicles , which combine an internal combustion engine and one or more electric motors.-Power:...

, an arrangement currently more common in diesel-electric or turbo-electric
Turbo-electric
A turbo-electric transmission uses electric generators to convert the mechanical energy of a turbine into electric energy and electric motors to convert it back into mechanical energy to power the driveshafts....

 railway locomotives than automobiles.

Though over 300 Lohner-Porsche chassis were sold up to 1906, most of them were two-wheel drive—either front- or rear-wheel driven trucks, buses and fire-engines. No further four-wheel-drive passenger cars were manufactured, however some buses were fitted with it.

The up to 56 km/h (35 mph) fast carriages broke several Austrian speed records, and also won the Exelberg Rally in 1901 with Porsche himself piloting a front-wheel drive hybrid specimen. It was later upgraded with more powerful engines from Daimler and Panhard
Panhard
Panhard is currently a French manufacturer of light tactical and military vehicles. Its current incarnation was formed by the acquisition of Panhard by Auverland in 2005. Panhard had been under Citroën ownership, then PSA , for 40 years...

, which proved to be enough to post more speed records. In 1905, Porsche was recognized with the Poetting prize as Austria's most outstanding automotive engineer.

In 1902, he was drafted into military service. He served as a chauffeur to Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria
Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria
Franz Ferdinand was an Archduke of Austria-Este, Austro-Hungarian and Royal Prince of Hungary and of Bohemia, and from 1889 until his death, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne. His assassination in Sarajevo precipitated Austria-Hungary's declaration of war against Serbia...

, the crown prince of Austria whose assassination sparked World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 a mere decade later.

Austro-Daimler


In 1906, Austro-Daimler
Austro-Daimler
Austro-Daimler was an Austrian automaker company, from 1899 until 1934. It was subsidiary of the German Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft .-Early history:...

 recruited Porsche as their chief designer. Porsche's best known Austro-Daimler car was designed for the Prince Henry Trial
Prinz-Heinrich-Fahrt
The Prinz-Heinrich-Fahrt , named after Prince Albert Wilhelm Heinrich of Prussia, was an automobile contest held from 1908 to 1911 and a precursor to the German Grand Prix...

 in 1910, named after Wilhelm II
William II, German Emperor
Wilhelm II was the last German Emperor and King of Prussia, ruling the German Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia from 15 June 1888 to 9 November 1918. He was a grandson of the British Queen Victoria and related to many monarchs and princes of Europe...

's younger brother Prince Heinrich of Prussia
Prince Heinrich of Prussia
Prince Henry of Prussia was a younger brother of German Emperor William II and a Prince of Prussia...

. Examples of this streamlined, 85 horsepower
Horsepower
Horsepower is the name of several units of measurement of power. The most common definitions equal between 735.5 and 750 watts.Horsepower was originally defined to compare the output of steam engines with the power of draft horses in continuous operation. The unit was widely adopted to measure the...

 (63 kW) car won the first three places, and the car is still better known by the nickname "Prince Henry" than by its model name "Modell 27/80".

Porsche had advanced to Managing Director by 1916 and received the honorary doctorate
Doctorate
A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder to teach in a specific field, A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder...

 degree, "Dr. techn h.c." from the Vienna University of Technology
Vienna University of Technology
Vienna University of Technology is one of the major universities in Vienna, the capital of Austria. Founded in 1815 as the "Imperial-Royal Polytechnic Institute" , it currently has about 26,200 students , 8 faculties and about 4,000 staff members...

 in 1917 (hence the "Dr. Ing h.c" in his name, meaning "Doktor Ingenieur Honoris Causa"). Porsche successfully continued to construct racing cars, winning 43 out of 53 races with his 1922 design. In 1923, Porsche left Austro-Daimler after differences ensued about the future direction of car development.

Only a few months later Porsche landed a new job as Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft
Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft
Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft was a German engine and later automobile manufacturer, in operation from 1890 until 1926. Founded by Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach, it was based first in Cannstatt...

's Technical Director in Stuttgart
Stuttgart
Stuttgart is the capital of the state of Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany. The sixth-largest city in Germany, Stuttgart has a population of 600,038 while the metropolitan area has a population of 5.3 million ....

, Weimar Germany
Weimar Republic
The Weimar Republic is the name given by historians to the parliamentary republic established in 1919 in Germany to replace the imperial form of government...

, which was already then a major hub for the German automotive industry. He received another honorary doctorate from the Stuttgart Technical University
University of Stuttgart
The University of Stuttgart is a university located in Stuttgart, Germany. It was founded in 1829 and is organized in 10 faculties....

 for his work at Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft in Stuttgart and later the honorary title Professor. While at Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft, he came up with several very successful race car designs. The heavy series of models equipped with superchargers that later culminated in the Mercedes-Benz SSK
Mercedes-Benz SSK
The Mercedes-Benz SSK is a roadster built by German automobile manufacturer Mercedes-Benz between 1928 and 1932. Its name is an acronym of Super Sport Kurz, German for "Super Sport Short", as it was a short wheelbase development of the earlier Mercedes-Benz S...

 dominated its class of motor racing in the 1920s.

In 1926, Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft and Benz & Cie
Karl Benz
Karl Friedrich Benz, was a German engine designer and car engineer, generally regarded as the inventor of the gasoline-powered car, and together with Bertha Benz pioneering founder of the automobile manufacturer Mercedes-Benz...

 merged into Daimler-Benz
Daimler-Benz
Daimler-Benz AG was a German manufacturer of automobiles, motor vehicles, and internal combustion engines; founded in 1926. An Agreement of Mutual Interest - which was valid until year 2000 - was signed on 1 May 1924 between Karl Benz's Benz & Cie., and Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft, which had...

, with their joint products beginning to be called, Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz is a German manufacturer of automobiles, buses, coaches, and trucks. Mercedes-Benz is a division of its parent company, Daimler AG...

. Porsche's concept of a small, light-weight Mercedes-Benz car was not popular with Daimler-Benz's board, however. He left in 1929 for Steyr Automobile
Steyr automobile
Steyr was an Austrian automotive company from 1915 until 1990.Formed as a branch of Steyr Osterreichische Waffenfabriks-Gesellschaft in 1915, to diversify manufacturing, the founders hired 38-year-old designer Hans Ledwinka after he resigned from Nesselsdorfer-Wagenbau...

, but the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

 brought about Steyr's economic collapse and Porsche ended up being unemployed.

Founding of Porsche



In April 1931 Porsche founded his consulting firm, Dr. req. h.c. F. Porsche GmbH, Konstruktionen und Beratungen für Motoren und Fahrzeugbau, in Stuttgart, where he returned. With financial backing from the Austrian advocate Anton Piëch and Adolf Rosenberger
Adolf Rosenberger
Adolf Rosenberger was a successful businessman who mainly raced Mercedes and Benz cars in the 1920s. His successes and records included wins at Avus, Stuttgart Solitude in 1924 and 1925, the Kasseler Herkules Hillclimb and the Klausenpassrennen...

, Porsche successfully recruited several old co-workers he befriended at his former places of employment including Karl Rabe
Karl Rabe
Karl Rabe was an automobile designer and held position of Chief Designer at Porsche. He helped Ferdinand Porsche to develop the Porsche's transmissions.-References:...

, Erwin Komenda
Erwin Komenda
Erwin Komenda ex Dr Ferdinand Porsche employee, helped in the design of the bodies for the VW Beetle and various Porsche sports cars....

, Franz Xaver Reimspiess, and his son, Ferry Porsche.

Their first project was the design of a middle class car for Wanderer
Wanderer (car)
Wanderer was a German manufacturer of bicycles, motorcycles, automobiles, vans and other machinery. Established as Winklhofer & Jaenicke in 1896, the company used the Wanderer brand name from 1911, making civilian automobiles until 1941 and military vehicles until 1945.-History:Winklhofer &...

. Other commissioned designs followed. As the business grew, Porsche decided to work on his own design as well, which happened to be a reincarnation of the small car concept from his days at Daimler-Benz in Stuttgart. He financed the project with a loan on his life insurance. Later Zündapp
Zündapp
Zündapp was a major German motorcycle manufacturer. The company was founded in 1917 in Nuremberg by Fritz Neumeyer, together with the Friedrich Krupp AG and the machine tool manufacturer Thiel under the name "Zünder- und Apparatebau G.m.b.H." as a producer of detonators...

 decided to help sponsor the project, but lost interest after their success with motorcycles. NSU
NSU Motorenwerke AG
NSU Motorenwerke AG, normally just NSU, was a German manufacturer of automobiles, motorcycles and pedal cycles, founded in 1873. It was acquired by Volkswagen Group in 1969...

 then took over the sponsorship, but also lost interest due to the high tooling costs.

With car commissions low in the depressed economic climate, Porsche founded a subsidiary company Hochleistungs Motor GmbH (High Efficiency Engines Ltd.) in 1932 to develop a racing car, for which he had no customer. Based on Max Wagner's mid-engined layout 1923 Benz Tropfenwagen, or "Teardrop" aerodynamic design; the experimental P-Wagen project racing car (P stood for Porsche), was designed according to the regulations of the 750 kg formula. The main regulation of this formula meant that the weight of the car without driver, fuel, oil, water and tire was not allowed to exceed 750 kg.

In 1932 Auto Union Gmbh
Auto Union
Auto Union was an amalgamation of four German automobile manufacturers, founded in 1932 and established in 1936 in Chemnitz, Saxony, during the Great Depression. The company has evolved into present day Audi, as a subsidiary of Volkswagen Group....

 was formed, comprising struggling auto manufacturers Audi
Audi
Audi AG is a German automobile manufacturer, from supermini to crossover SUVs in various body styles and price ranges that are marketed under the Audi brand , positioned as the premium brand within the Volkswagen Group....

, DKW
DKW
DKW is a historic German car and motorcycle marque. The name derives from Dampf-Kraft-Wagen .In 1916, the Danish engineer Jørgen Skafte Rasmussen founded a factory in Zschopau, Saxony, Germany, to produce steam fittings. In the same year, he attempted to produce a steam-driven car, called the DKW...

, Horch
Horch
Horch was a car brand manufactured in Germany by August Horch & Cie, at the beginning of the 20th century.-History at a Glance:The company was established first by August Horch and his first business partner Salli Herz on November 14, 1899 at Ehrenfeld, Cologne. August Horch was a former production...

 and Wanderer
Wanderer (car)
Wanderer was a German manufacturer of bicycles, motorcycles, automobiles, vans and other machinery. Established as Winklhofer & Jaenicke in 1896, the company used the Wanderer brand name from 1911, making civilian automobiles until 1941 and military vehicles until 1945.-History:Winklhofer &...

. The Chairman of the Board of Directors, Baron Klaus von Oertzen
Klaus von Oertzen
Baron Claus-Detlof von Oertzen was involved in the motor industry for most of his long life and is sometimes referred to as the “Father of Volkswagen of South Africa”....

 wanted a show piece project, so at fellow director Adolf Rosenberger's insistence, von Oertzen met with Porsche, who had done work for him before. At the 1933 Berlin Motor Show, German Chancellor Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 announced two new programs:
  • The people's car: Hitler made it his political agenda to motorize the nation, and that every German should own either a car or a tractor
    Tractor
    A tractor is a vehicle specifically designed to deliver a high tractive effort at slow speeds, for the purposes of hauling a trailer or machinery used in agriculture or construction...

     in the future.
  • A state-sponsored motor racing programme: to develop a "high speed German automotive industry," the foundation of which would be an annual sum of 500,000 Reichmarks to Mercedes-Benz
    Mercedes-Benz
    Mercedes-Benz is a German manufacturer of automobiles, buses, coaches, and trucks. Mercedes-Benz is a division of its parent company, Daimler AG...



The announcement led to two projects for Porsche, and set a precedent for the rest of the decade with Porsche accepting further projects from Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

, latterly including military vehicles from the Panzer
Panzer
A Panzer is a German language word that, when used as a noun, means "tank". When it is used as an adjective, it means either tank or "armoured" .- Etymology :...

, Tiger Tank
Tiger I
Tiger I is the common name of a German heavy tank developed in 1942 and used in World War II. The final official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. E, often shortened to Tiger. It was an answer to the unexpectedly formidable Soviet armour encountered in the initial months of...

 and the Elefant
Elefant
The Elefant was a "schwerer Panzerjäger" of the German Wehrmacht used in small numbers in World War II. It was built in 1943 under the name Ferdinand, after its designer Ferdinand Porsche. In 1944, after modification of the existing vehicles, they were renamed Elefant...

 tank destroyer.

Volkswagen Beetle


In June 1934, Porsche received a contract from Hitler to design a "people's car" (or Volkswagen), following on from his previous designs such as the 1931 Type 12 car designed for Zündapp
Zündapp
Zündapp was a major German motorcycle manufacturer. The company was founded in 1917 in Nuremberg by Fritz Neumeyer, together with the Friedrich Krupp AG and the machine tool manufacturer Thiel under the name "Zünder- und Apparatebau G.m.b.H." as a producer of detonators...

. The first two prototype cars were completed in 1935. These were followed by several further pre-production batches during 1936 to 1939. The car was similar to the contemporary designs of Hans Ledwinka
Hans Ledwinka
Hans Ledwinka was an Austrian automobile designer.- Youth :Ledwinka was born was born in Klosterneuburg , near Vienna, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire....

 of Tatra
Tatra (car)
Tatra is a vehicle manufacturer in Kopřivnice, Czech Republic. The company was founded in 1850 as Schustala & Company later renamed Nesselsdorfer Wagenbau-Fabriksgesellschaft, a wagon and carriage manufacturer, and in 1897 produced the first motor car in central Europe, the Präsident. In 1918, it...

, which resulted in a lawsuit against Porsche settled by Volkswagen
Volkswagen
Volkswagen is a German automobile manufacturer and is the original and biggest-selling marque of the Volkswagen Group, which now also owns the Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, SEAT, and Škoda marques and the truck manufacturer Scania.Volkswagen means "people's car" in German, where it is...

 only several years after World War II. A new city, "Stadt des KdF-Wagens", near Fallersleben
Fallersleben
Fallersleben is a district in the City of Wolfsburg, Lower Saxony, Germany, with a population of 11,269 . The village of Fallersleben was first mentioned in 942 under the name of Valareslebo. Fallersleben became a city in 1929, and was incorporated into Wolfsburg in 1972. Before 1972, it belonged...

 was founded for the Volkswagen factory, but wartime production concentrated almost exclusively on the military Kübelwagen and Schwimmwagen variants. Mass production of the car, which later became known as the Beetle, commenced after the end of the war. The city is named Wolfsburg
Wolfsburg
Wolfsburg is a town in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is located on the River Aller northeast of Braunschweig , and is mainly notable as the headquarters of Volkswagen AG...

 today and is still the headquarters of Volkswagen Group
Volkswagen Group
Volkswagen Group is a German multinational automobile manufacturing group. , Volkswagen was ranked as the world’s third largest motor vehicle manufacturer and Europe's largest....

.

Auto Union racing car



German racing driver Hans Stuck
Hans Stuck
Hans Stuck was a German motor racing driver...

 had met Hitler before he became Chancellor, and not being able to gain a seat at Mercedes, accepted the invitation of Rosenberger to join him, von Oertzen and Porsche in approaching the Chancellor. In a meeting in the Reich Chancellery
Reich Chancellery
The Reich Chancellery was the traditional name of the office of the Chancellor of Germany in the period of the German Reich from 1871 to 1945...

, Hitler agreed with Porsche that for the glory of Germany, it would be better for two companies to develop the project, resulting in Hitler agreeing to split the money between Mercedes and Auto Union with 250,000 Reichsmark to each company. This highly annoyed Mercedes, who had already developed their Mercedes-Benz W125
Mercedes-Benz W125
The Mercedes-Benz W125 was a Grand Prix racing car designed by Rudolf Uhlenhaut to race during the 1937 Grand Prix season. The car was used by Rudolf Caracciola to win the 1937 European Championship and W125 drivers also finished in the second, third and fourth positions in the championship.The...

, and resulted in a heated exchange both on and off the racing track between the two companies for the period until World War Two.

Having garnered state funds, Auto Union bought Hochleistungs Motor GmbH and hence the P-Wagen Project for 75,000 Reichsmark, relocating the company to Chemnitz
Chemnitz
Chemnitz is the third-largest city of the Free State of Saxony, Germany. Chemnitz is an independent city which is not part of any county and seat of the government region Direktionsbezirk Chemnitz. Located in the northern foothills of the Ore Mountains, it is a part of the Saxon triangle...

. As Porsche became more involved with the construction of the Wolfsburg factory, he handed over his racing projects to his son, Ferry. The dominance of the Silver Arrows
Silver Arrows
Silver Arrows was the name given by the press to Germany's dominant Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union Grand Prix motor racing cars between 1934 and 1939, and also later applied to the Mercedes-Benz Formula One and sports cars in 1954/55.For decades until the introduction of sponsorship liveries, each...

of both brands was only stopped by the outbreak of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 in 1939.

Post war


In November 1945 after the war, Porsche was asked to continue the design of the Volkswagen in France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and to move the factory equipment there as part of war reparations
War reparations
War reparations are payments intended to cover damage or injury during a war. Generally, the term war reparations refers to money or goods changing hands, rather than such property transfers as the annexation of land.- History :...

. Differences within the French government and objections from the French automotive industry put a halt to this project before it had even begun. On 15 December 1945, French authorities arrested Porsche, Anton Piëch, and Ferry Porsche as war criminals. While Ferry was set free soon, Ferdinand and Anton were held in a Dijon
Dijon
Dijon is a city in eastern France, the capital of the Côte-d'Or département and of the Burgundy region.Dijon is the historical capital of the region of Burgundy. Population : 151,576 within the city limits; 250,516 for the greater Dijon area....

 prison for 20 months without trial.

While his father was in captivity, Ferry tried to keep the company in business, and they also repaired cars, water pumps, and winch
Winch
A winch is a mechanical device that is used to pull in or let out or otherwise adjust the "tension" of a rope or wire rope . In its simplest form it consists of a spool and attached hand crank. In larger forms, winches stand at the heart of machines as diverse as tow trucks, steam shovels and...

es. A contract with Piero Dusio
Piero Dusio
Piero Dusio was an Italian soccer player, businessman and racing driver.Dusio was born at Scurzolengo, province of Asti. His active soccer career ended in a knee injury, after which he started a textile business , which evolved into sporting goods as well as becoming supplier of military uniforms...

 was completed for a Grand Prix motor racing
Grand Prix motor racing
Grand Prix motor racing has its roots in organised automobile racing that began in France as far back as 1894. It quickly evolved from a simple road race from one town to the next, to endurance tests for car and driver...

 car, the Type 360
Porsche 360
Porsche 360 Cisitalia is an automobile from Porsche introduced in 1949. The name Cisitalia is the name of the company that ordered the model.-History:The car was commissioned by Piero Dusio in 1946...

 Cisitalia
Cisitalia
Cisitalia was an Italian sports and racing car constructor. The name "Cisitalia" derives from "Compagnia Industriale Sportive Italia", a business conglomerate founded in Turin in 1946 and controlled by the wealthy industrialist and sportsman Piero Dusio...

. The innovative 4WD design never went into races, but the money it raised for Porsche was used to redeem Ferdinand Porsche from French prison.

The company also started work on a new design, the Porsche 356
Porsche 356
The Porsche 356 was the company's first production automobile. It was a lightweight and nimble handling rear-engine rear-wheel-drive 2 door sports car available in hardtop coupe and open configurations. Design innovations continued during the years of manufacture, contributing to its motorsports...

, the first car to carry the Porsche brand. The company was located in Gmünd in Carinthia
Carinthia (state)
Carinthia is the southernmost Austrian state or Land. Situated within the Eastern Alps it is chiefly noted for its mountains and lakes.The main language is German. Its regional dialects belong to the Southern Austro-Bavarian group...

 at the time, to which they had evacuated from Stuttgart to avoid Allied bomb raids. The company started manufacturing the Porsche 356 in an old saw mill in Gmünd. They manufactured 49 cars, which were built entirely by manual labor.

Return to Stuttgart


The Porsche family returned to Stuttgart in 1949 not knowing how to restart their business. The banks would not give them credit, as the company's plant was still under American embargo and could not serve as collateral. So Ferry Porsche took one of the limited series 356 models from Gmünd and visited Volkswagen dealers to raise some orders. He asked the dealers to pay for the ordered cars in advance. He even wrote a letter to the bank's director to thank him for refusing.

The serial version made in Stuttgart had a steel
Steel
Steel is an alloy that consists mostly of iron and has a carbon content between 0.2% and 2.1% by weight, depending on the grade. Carbon is the most common alloying material for iron, but various other alloying elements are used, such as manganese, chromium, vanadium, and tungsten...

 body welded to the central-tube platform chassis instead of the aluminum body used in the small Gmünd-made series. When Ferry Porsche resurrected the company he counted on series production figures of about 1,500. More than 78,000 Porsche 356s were manufactured in the following 17 years.

Porsche was later contracted by Volkswagen for additional consulting work and received a royalty
Royalties
Royalties are usage-based payments made by one party to another for the right to ongoing use of an asset, sometimes an intellectual property...

 on every Volkswagen Type I (Beetle) car manufactured. This provided Porsche with a comfortable financial situation as more than 20 million Type I were built.

In November 1950, Porsche visited the Wolfsburg Volkswagen factory for the first time since the end of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. Porsche spent his visit chatting with Volkswagen president Heinrich Nordhoff
Heinrich Nordhoff
Heinz Heinrich Nordhoff was a German engineer famous for his leadership of the Volkswagen company as it was rebuilt after World War II....

 about the future of VW Beetle, which were already being produced in large numbers.

A few weeks later, Porsche suffered a stroke
Stroke
A stroke, previously known medically as a cerebrovascular accident , is the rapidly developing loss of brain function due to disturbance in the blood supply to the brain. This can be due to ischemia caused by blockage , or a hemorrhage...

. He did not fully recover, and died on 30 January 1951.

In 1996, Porsche was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame
International Motorsports Hall of Fame
The International Motorsports Hall of Fame is a Hall of Fame dedicated to enshrining those who have contributed the most to auto racing either as a driver, owner, developer or engineer...

 and in 1999 posthumously won the award of Car Engineer of the Century
Car Engineer of the Century
The Car Engineer of the Century was an international award given to the most influential car engineer of the twentieth century. The election process was overseen by the Global Automotive Elections Foundation....

.

In 2010 an official memorial was erected in Porsche's birthplace in Vratislavice nad Nisou, Czech Republic
Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe. The country is bordered by Poland to the northeast, Slovakia to the east, Austria to the south, and Germany to the west and northwest....

, featuring a Porsche 356
Porsche 356
The Porsche 356 was the company's first production automobile. It was a lightweight and nimble handling rear-engine rear-wheel-drive 2 door sports car available in hardtop coupe and open configurations. Design innovations continued during the years of manufacture, contributing to its motorsports...

.

Further reading

  • Barber, Chris (2003). Birth of the Beetle: The Development of the Volkswagen by Ferdinand Porsche. Haynes Publishing. ISBN 1859609597.
  • Ludvigsen, Karl E. (2008). Porsche: Excellence Was Expected – The Comprehensive History of the Company, Its Cars and Its Racing Heritage. Brooklands Books. ISBN 9780837602356
  • Hans Mommsen; Manfred Grieger: Das Volkswagenwerk und seine Arbeiter im Dritten Reich, ECON Verlag, Düsseldorf 1996, ISBN 3-430-16785-X
  • Peter Müller: Ferdinand Porsche. Der Vater des Volkswagens, 4. Aufl., 1998
  • Martin Pfundner: Austro Daimler und Steyr. Rivalen bis zur Fusion. Die frühen Jahre des Ferdinand Porsche. Böhlau, Wien 2007. ISBN 978-3-205-77639-0

External links