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Porsche History

The life & times of Ferdinand Porsche and his son Ferry.

Both of them, rare individuals whose combined multi-faceted brilliance leads to one of the world’s most scintillating sports car brands.


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 fine tolerances he required by 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 was most fond of them, in the rear view.

     Solutions Porsche & company created were expectantly brilliant as evidenced from one vehicle 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 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 on the lives of Ferdinand and his son Ferry and the beginnings of corporate Porsche. Included is the company's evolution from consultancy to car maker up to the point of Ferry taking the company public. Both men made decisions that shaped and moved the enterprise of Porsche forward as a leader in racing and the automotive retail 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 shape that defines Porsche, the 911. 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 impossible 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.



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porsche history essay author karl hansen

Karl Hansen

About the Author  |  Karl Hansen is creative professional with a communication background spanning book publishing, advertising, and corporate media design. But for a 1 year stint exploring the likes of a Mercedes diesel at the beginning of 1990, he's been a Porsche owner since 1978. His Porsche journey began with a 924, then a 914, a 911 Carrera, and three 930s. He's currently in the seat of an '80 911 Super Carrera. Mechanically, he restored the 914 ground-up, then did much the same with one of his '79 930s. As this essay is written, he's rebuilding a 3.2 engine for his '80 911. This historical essay is based on Karl's extensive Porsche research, prolific note taking, and a maniacal interest (due to his book publishing days) in telling the story. All of it being grist for the Porsche historical mill the sum of which has been assembled with rigor into the non-fiction that follows. Karl met George Perdomo, the host of this Porsche History, in 2002, their meeting being the result of Karl searching for a Porsche tech in the Miami area that genuinely knew what he was doing, was meticulous in his work yet reasonably priced, and could be trusted. The relationship that ensued and continues to this day is one of mutual respect and each having a great admiration for the other's professional skills. This Porsche History is in honor of the prodigious men who were Ferdinand & Ferry Porsche.

porsche history author karl hansen in his 1980 porsche 911 sc targa

Author in his 1980 SC Targa. 

The fine print: “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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