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Ferdinand Porsche
Short story
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Engine data


Approx. 28.000 wins in 60 years ...

Ferry Porsche would later be addressed as 'Professor Ing.' (professor of engineering), although he never did an engineers examination, the same, by the way, as his father. There are quotes about him, which say that, even as a schoolboy, he spent a lot of time in workshops. A great deal of his youth was associated with the motor car.

It took only three short years after his GCSE, before he, in 1931, entered his father's company. He probably learned a great deal at the Bosch company, however the hardest test for him was still to come. At this time, his father was already world famous, he would only tolerate criticism, when one was alone with him. The highest praise coming from him, was when he never said anything.

Ferdinand Porsche constructed everything, only not a Porsche. The Auto Union Type C was was the first project in which he had a major involvement. You would never say so when looking at it, but it's technology was taken from the VW-Beetle, and thus, also from the first Porsche. It wasn't just here that the future boss of the Porsche company learned about the advantages of lightweight construction.

The development of the VW-Beetle, which began one year later, was still to play an important role in the life of Ferry Porsche. Thus, he became the companys internal test-manager, because after 1937, his father advanced from constructor, to works director. During the period where he was busy with the new VW-works in Fallersleben, his son was slowly settling down into the role of test-manager.

After the war Ferry Porsche, after a short time as a prisoner, was finally, together with his sister Luise, left alone with his decisions, with only a few, but good employees he found himself, once again, in his home-town of Gmund. He kept his head above water with all sorts of orders, not only from the metalworks sector. A great deal of Beetle components and all the construction-drawings were there. They were also kept busy through a lucrative Formula-1 order from the Cisitalia company, which indeed, went under through the ransom they paid to free his father and brother-in-law.

The 356 was developed, more or less, out of necessity. The big problem was the procurement of missing parts. The aluminium for the first 50 Porsches, came from Switzerland. He had an excellent coachwork-builder, although unfortunately the man wasn't very reliable. In the first Porsche the stronger engine alone was not the deciding factor, more important were its light-weight and the aerodynamics.

The very first of the 50 hand-made 356's was indeed, a mid-engine project. Irrespective of this one, the further 356's were, apart from a few suspension characteristics, almost unchanged Beetle-technology. The design, and the construction, which differed from the Beetle, were brought in by Ferry Porsche and of course his employees from before the war. After being in custody, his father was forbidden from returning to Gmund, therefore, everything now depended on his son, also the problems of the logistics.

Wind tunnels had been around for quite awhile, but at this time, were not available, so the test-car had woollen threads stuck on to it and during the operation it was photographed from a bridge, Ferdinand Porsch did indeed take part in these trials which never took place in Gmund. If one compares the performance with that of the Beetle, then one must acknowledge the aerodynamic qualities of the bodywork.

The sales of the cars must have been even more unusual. A contract with Heinrich Nothoff, thus also with the VW-works, ensured the guarantee of a certain income per produced Beetle, the possibility of distributing their own product through the VW-dealerships, the takeover of the general agency for Austria and for decades, the close cooperation with VW as far as development was concerned.

The car was only presented to a few VW-dealers and they had to take on a full years production, sometimes even, pay for it straight away. Ferry Porsche believed he could sell 500 examples, in the end it was over 82.000. The expenses by the way, would have been even lower, if they had calculated for amounts like that. Indeed, one never knows before hand ...

In the course of these 80.000 examples, the car underwent an incredible development. To only observe that the cubic capacity was increased from 1,1- to 2 liters, is saying far too little. The carburettors and the oil supply were the first significant modifications. Together with this, the channels were altered and of course, also the compression, which, on the other hand, required a different crank mechanism, preferably also with roller-bearings. The list would be incomplete without mentioning the famous Fuhrmann-DOHC-engine.

The first racing successes appeared quite early. The accompanying vehicles almost stole the show from the original Porsche. An 550 like this, particularly one with the mid-engine, would still today make an impression at any design-exhibition. Added to this, there are of course, the myths. James Dean, a promising young actor who had a fatal accident in September 1955 in a Speedster. His former front-seat passenger described the accident as being the carelessness of an oncoming driver who made a left-turn. Nevertheless, the occurence would be linked to the power of the Speedster.

Ferry Porsche described the 911 created in 1962/63, as 'his car'. For the first time he had the opportunity to create a car according to the construction characteristics laid down by him. In the meantime, the next generation, in the person of his eldest son, Ferdinand Alexander (Gestorben 2012), had taken his place in the works and actively influenced the design. In the 911, restraint (interior) and foresight (engine construction) were equally applied. An interesting point is that the new model never had a higher performance, the difference was in the way the power was delivered.

Who would ever have dreamed that this engine, in standard trim, would one day, be equipped with four times as much power?, and that the 911 would still, after 40 years, be the back-bone of the company? Indeed, technically seen, serious testing was done, e.g., to assert the trans-axle principle, however, this was doomed because of the emotions of the customers, and finally had to be dropped. Perhaps this is the price the company has to pay for being extremely dependant on the American market.

Indeed, the engineers at Porsche have undermined the customer-signals. Since, apart from the trans-axle, almost anything can be bought with the Porsche-emblem up front: Liquid-cooling, all-wheel-drive, front-mounted engine, more than six cylinders and four full-sized seats. In view of the financial crisis of 2008/2009 they even, albeit unwillingly, included the Diesel engine.

The brand name, Porsche, had not always been successful. The crude-oil price crisis could be managed, the lack of success with the 924/928-series nearly broke them. Because of family disputes, they developed, from a family business into a corporation including a holding-company, in 2008 they nearly bit off more than they could chew in an attempt to take over VW. Thus, they ended up, provisionally, as a tenth subsidiary of the mighty VW-Group. 05/12


Cylinder 911 (air-cooled)
Six-cylinder-boxer engine
Six-cylinder-boxer (turbo)
Exhaust system 911
V-10 of the Porsche GT
Rear engine/rear-wheel drive
Rear engine/all-wheel drive
Porsche Turbo (cut-away
Front axle Cayenne
Underside cladding 911
911-racing version