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Ferdinand Porsche 1

He was born in 1875 as the third of five children in Maffersdorf, today Vratislavice nad Nisou, situated in the Czech Republic, 50 km northeast of Mlada Boleslav (Skoda) and about 100 km north-east of Prague. It was part of the vast territory of Austria-Hungary, which can not be compared with today's Czech Republic. Austria-Hungary, the K and K Monarchy, was so large that it reaches even to Trieste, thus to the Mediterranean Sea.

The father operated with several employees as a plumber. This professional title seems inadequate to the present term of the plumber, because it included more metalwork than only the support for water supply and heating. In the place, the father had manifold offices, was probably to be counted among the dignitaries there. The young Ferdinand, after the death of his older brother, learned the father's job, but was much more interested in the newly emerging electrics.

Anton Porsche viewed his son's tendencies with great skepticism, until one day a serious argument broke out. Afterwards the father may have realized that the son would not succeed him. Nevertheless, his house was probably one of the first to be equipped with electric lighting when his father was busy away from home.

And of course it wasn't fed from a general network, but from its own generator. There is even said to have been some kind of door intercom system. Apart from primary school up to 14 years and then in the evening the industrial school in Reichenbach, Porsche never enjoyed a planned theoretical training.

After completing an apprenticeship in his father's company, he left his parents' home together with his older sister and began training at the United Electricity AG Egger in Vienna (later Braun Boveri). At the same time, he attended evening courses at the Technical University as a kind of guest student.

After completing his apprenticeship, just four years later, Porsche became head of the test room and thus assistant to the operations manager, his first management position. He met his future wife Louise in the company's operations office. Ferdinand Porsche was 22 years old when he became engaged to Fräulein Kaes.

We'll leave out his various activities at Egger, because in the same year he registered his first patent for the electric wheel hub motor. He moved to Lohner-Werke as chief designer. At Lohner he built the Lohner Porsche, which won an award at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1900.


This is a car with two wheel hub motors (pictured above) in normal version and four motors in racing version. The former produced 1.8 kW (2.5 hp) each at 120 rpm for around 20 minutes. It turned out to be an expensive but neventheless good sellable sensation. Celebrities scrambled to get such a car. The batteries proved so heavy and weak that they were later replaced by a gasoline-electric (hybrid) drive.


Replica of the Semper-Vivus hybrid vehicle

Porsche itself took part in races quite successfully. Luise was born in 1904 and Ferdinand (Ferry) in 1909. Both will also have a certain significance for the creation of the Volkswagen factory. In Vienna the family lived on the same street as Siegmund Freud. Adolf Hitler was still an unemployed painter at the time, but also in the city. Porsche came while he was working at Lohner with highest circles in touch.


Sascha car for Count Kolowrat

Porsche, who also received imperial honors, became a designer for a wide range of applications. In 1906, Lohner moved to Austro-Daimler as chief designer. He designed everything from fire engines, which by the way still have to be transported by horses, to aircraft engines, trolleybuses, transport systems and equipment that could be used by the military, such as a tow train for gun carriages.


Modest dashboard of the Sascha car

However, Porsche's work also meant increased expenses for his employer, which he could no longer afford or wanted to afford. Camillo Castiglioni, who was also in the supervisory board of Austro-Daimler, is said to have once said about Porsche: 'You can engage Porsche. He is a very brilliant man. But hear my recipe. You have to lock him in a cage with seven locks. He should draw his engines there. And he should hand you the engine drawings through the bars so that, for heaven's sake, he can't get to the drawing or the engine again. This is my recipe. I give it free of charge, although it is priceless.' (Quote: Stiefel: Camillo Castiglioni, 2012)


Fire truck designed by Porsche

Porsche also remained successful as a racing driver. The Prinz-Heinrich-Fahrt, which he won in 1910, shouldn't actually be called a car race. It was more of a long distance reliability test (1910 almost 2000 km) with embedded speed tests. No racing cars were allowed, only touring cars with three people in them.

In addition to the inevitable controller, the only 18-year-old Croatian Josip Broz Tito, who later became Yugoslavia's long-time head of state, was said to have been a passenger. Porsche not only won the Prinz Heinrich trip in 1910, but also became the overall winner of all three trips from 1908 onwards by lot.

The Sascha car (pictured above) created by Austro-Daimler is considered important for the development of a Volkswagen. From the outside it appeared to be a commissioned work for Count Sascha Kolowrat, but it did show Porsche's commitment to a small automobile that should be affordable for more people than before. Although the car had a small engine for the time at 1,100 cm3, it was extremely successful in races due to its low weight and 33 kW (45 hp).

There were different opinions between Porsche and the supervisory board and especially with the director Camillo Castiglioni. He obviously disapproved of Porsche's tendency to also offer smaller cars through Austro Daimler. However, the termination is said to have occurred when Porsche refused to lay off a significant part of the workforce and exchange Castiglioni's financial resources for inflation-proof foreign currency.

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