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Porsche History

The life & times of Ferdinand Porsche and his son Ferdinand Anton Ernst, "Ferry."

Both of them, rare individuals whose combined multi-faceted brilliance has led to one of the world’s most scintillating sports car brands. This is their story.


Ferdinand Porsche. Apprentice tin smith. Electrically inclined. Award winning automotive engineer, racer, and a titled Professor without having a college degree. Born into humble means, his life begins the driven empire that is now his indelible legacy.

     To his impressive credit, Porsche prospered while the tides of his time flowed measurably against him. To begin, he’s made redundant at an employment then launches corporate Porsche amid the economic tumble of the Great Depression. Then comes World War II. Much of Germany, including Stuttgart where Porsche is located, is bombed to rubble. War’s end brings no good news for Porsche. Now in his seventies, he’s arrested & imprisoned by the French, charged with war crimes---later exonorated. To boldly thrive amid these and other challenges, Porsche lived with a decisive vision for what should be. This, as opposed to being deterred or limited by what was. 

     A perfectionist, Porsche was equally known for his mercurial temper and the ultra fine metric tolerances he required by design default. Though he certainly had the savvy to stand on his own, he possessed the greater wisdom to lead from no less than the shoulders of giants. Each individual he employed was the best of the best in their respective field. And all were commonly connected by the tensioned cord Porsche deftly pulled on, that being to always compete at the highest levels. If Porsche was fond of anything more than perfection, it was seeing competitors where he most admired them, in the rear view mirror.

     Solutions Porsche & company created were expectantly brilliant as evidenced from one vehicle to the next---one race to the next. And, so numerous were the company’s accomplishments that a short list would wrongly insult the expanse of the whole body of work Porsche & company created.

     Ultimately, Ferdinand was a smart businessman who had a blunt, straight forward style when dealing with prospects and clients. He knew how to communicate, deliver value and how to profit from doing so. If this all seems over the top, that’s because by any standard, Ferdinand Porsche was.

This essay delves into Porsche history focusing primarily on the lives of Ferdinand and his son Ferry and the beginnings of corporate Porsche. Doing so naturally includes the company's evolution from consultancy to car maker up to the point of Ferry merging the Porsche companies and taking the merged entity public.

     Father & son both made decisions that shaped and moved the enterprise of Porsche forward as a leader in racing and in the retail automotive worlds. “Butzi,” one of Ferry’s four sons, is given attention as it was he who was given credit for being the designer of the form that defines Porsche, the 911. Whether Butzi deserved this credit is debatable. Erwin Komenda is entwined in this matter of questionable credit. Other topics covered include the origins of Porsche's crest, Porsche's overall wins at Le Mans, and a look at how Ferrari ended up---like Porsche---with a prancing horse within the corporate logo. There is also a complete (as of this writing) roster of Porsche's racing and production cars.

Going back in time, the choices made early on by Ferdinand & son, they are all connected to this moment in time and to the Porsche you likely drive / have driven / or want to drive. Along the way, this Porsche History will take side roads to explore hidden relationships and meanings, most of which are dutiful strands that contribute to the complex tapestry that makes Porsche, PORSCHE. Other side roads are for pure insight. Some historical events may be disturbing. That said, know that no agenda exists in this essay to be critical of any individual, religion, government, or country. Rather, the mission here is to account for events with bias towards the positive. On occasion, a positive slant may be sensibly unjust given the facts. In that case, the chips will fall where they may, always with respect. Historical details have been cross referenced to bring as much accuracy to bear as possible. Photos, illustrations and diagrams are presented with appreciation to their respective owners as credited. This essay is non commercial and exists for educational purposes only.


Disclaimer: “Porsche,” the Porsche crest, and Porsche car model numbers & names are under licensed use by Porsche Cars North America, Inc.(PCNA) from the owner Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche Aktiengesellschaft, Porsche AG ("Porsche.") Racing car model numbers & names are likewise the property of Porsche AG. The "Porsche Museum" name is the property of Porsche AG. No association or affiliation with Porsche, PCNA, The Porsche Museum is intended or implied by the author of this section or by GP AutoWerks, an independent Miami-based Porsche service, repair, rebuild & PPI shop that offers comprehensive Master Porsche mechanical care for classic & contemporary Porsche sports cars---356 through 991, 928, 944, Boxster, and Cayman. Ferrari, the Ferrari logo/crest, and Ferrari car model names are the property of Ferrari. No association or affiliation with Ferrari is intended or implied by the author of this section or by GP AutoWerks as previously described.


“Porsche History” content is offered for educational purposes only. Content has been crossed referenced for the sake of accuracy but no guarantee of accuracy is offered or implied by the author. All photos, illustrations, and diagrams shown in “Porsche History”  are the property of their respective owners as credited. In some cases, an image owner is unknown in which case the image is credited “Unknown.”  If at any time an image owner can prove ownership to the author, their image will be duly credited or removed. Image infringement shall only exist if an owner proves ownership and their written request to credit or remove a specific image is not accomplished by the author within 30 days of written notice being received by the author. Any such notice to the author requires proof of service of notice. Please contact GP AutoWerks for access to the author. Website structure is © 2022 GP AutoWerks. All rights reserved. “Porsche History” written content is © 2022 Karl Hansen. All rights reserved.  

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