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Porsche Brief History
Dr. Ing Ferdinand Porsche began thinking about beginning his own automobile manufacturing company. In 1900, Dr. Porsche designed the first gasoline/electric hybrid automobile. For almost 50 years, Dr. Porsche has worked with Auto Union, Volkswagen, Daimler-Benz, Mercedes, and Daimler. In 1931, the Volkswagen Beetle was developed by his independent design company.
While Dr. Porsche was at a race, his son Ferry was born. Ferry was very important to the design of the Porsche 356, which was the first Porsche ever built. He was also a test driver and a draftsman at Dr. Porsche’s company. Dr. Porsche was convicted of being a war criminal and spent 20 months in Dijon, France in prison. During this time Ferry worked the new Porsche. Although he was soon released, Ferry was also arrested. In his father’s absence he designed the first Porsche sports car as well as raced cars to keep the family company going.
Since this was post war Europe, parts for the first Porsche 356 were located wherever they could be found. This sports car featured a highly modified Volkswagen that had 40 HP. The firm’s headquarters were located in Gmund, Austria, which is where five of these sports cars that were ordered from a distributor in Zurich, Switzerland were hand built. The Porsche 356 won its first race one month after it left the plant. By 1954, the Porsche 356 was being produced regularly. The speedster version was produced in 1954. In 1956, 10,000 Porsche 356’s were produced. The Porsche 356 was introduced some years later.
In 1951, Dr. Porsche died. In 1963, the Porsche 911 was introduced. It was their flagship vehicle. Originally, it was known as the 901. However, the production vehicle officially named the 911 in 1964. It featured had 130 HP six cylinder, two liter engine. Within the next decade, the high performance, semiautomatic Targa was produced.
Although its engine was used in the Porsche 912, the production of the Porsche 356 ended in 1965. The replacement was the mid-engine Porsche 914, which was produced in 1970. The Porsche 914 was replaced with the Porsche 924, which had the Audi engine in the front. In 1978, the 240 HP Porsche 928 was introduced with a V-8 engine. The 944 was based on the 924, but featured a four cylinder engine that was built by Porsche and was introduced in 1982. In 1985, at the Frankfort Auto Show, the Porsche 959 made its debut. There were 250,000 Porsche 911’s produced in 1987.
A Porsche 356 SL won a class victory at Le Mans in 1951. At the Targa Florio, a 550 Porsche Spyder won first place in 1956. During the 1960’s and 1970’s there were wins at the World Championship of Makes, the Can-Am series, the 24 Hours of Daytona, and the Nurburgring 1000 km race. At the Paris-Dakar rally, there were also wins for the Porsche 959 and the Porsche Carrera four by four during the 1980’s.
From the beginning, the Piech and Porsche families had controlled the company. However, Porsche went public in 1984. Dr. Porsche’s son in law was Dr. Ernst Piech who kept 50% of the shares. Porsche continued to produce large numbers of high quality sports cars. In 1987, 250,000 Porsche 911’s were produced. In 1990, Porsche introduced their clutchless Tiptronic manual transmission.
Porsche was about to be taken over by a larger company during the 1970’s as a result of the gas crisis. A Dr. Wiedekin became the CEO and refocused development on the Porsche 911. Front engine models were discontinued and not long afterwards the mid-engine Boxster was introduced. In 1996, one million Porsches were produced. Porsche bought one third shares on Volkswagen in 2008.
At the time, Porsche had four basic models in the marketplace, which were the Cayenne sports SUV, the Cayman, the Boxster, and the 911 Carrera. In 2010, the Porsche Panamera was introduced.