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Porsche Company History

Published: 24th Mar 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

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From fifty cars with – well let’s face it – more or less a VW engine, hand-built in an old woodworking shed at Gmund in the mountains of Austria, and once poised to take control of Volkswagen, Porsche has come a long way in six decades. Prof. Ferdinand Porsche designed the infamous VW ‘peoples car’ pre-1939, and even then had a vision for a sports car. But as he languished post-’45 in a French jail, it was left to his son (also Ferdinand, but called Ferry) and sister Louise to bring the dream to fruition. Ferdinand Porsche was released just in time to see those first Porsches go on sale in 1948, but he sadly died three years later as 356 production got underway seriously at the company’s factory in Stuttgart, Germany, re-claimed from occupying US forces. In the thirteen years that followed in excess of 76,000 Porsche A, B and C model 356s were produced, the car progressively losing all its Volkswagen connections on the way.

Whilst the 356 was a wonder of its time, perhaps initially flawed by its humble beginnings, it was the car that followed that created the Porsche legend. The 911 – it should have been 901, but Peugeot objected – was an all-new, high performance, sports car capable of running rings round anything on the road at the time. Ferry’s son Butzi (also christened Ferdinand!) did the iconic styling, the basic shape that would follow through to at least 1989 and some even say the present day, and the rear-mounted, air-cooled, flat six delivered a remarkable 150bhp from just two-litres The 911 went on, and on, and Porsche’s fortunes rose and fell, often in unison. In 1977 the company thought the 911 had reached the end of its natural life and brought in the front-engine 928 as a replacement..But sales of the rear-engine car revived, and development continued through numerous engine capacity and increases and power hikes – plus the early turbo years – to a time in the late eighties when, again, it seemed the end was near. But the lack-lustre 964 was followed by the highly developed 993 (the last of the air-cooled line) and the new-age 996 that was to move Porsche into a totally new era. The 996 – and the mid-engine Boxster introduced more or less simultaneously – were a new breed of Porkers, made on modern (some might say Japanese style) production lines, where getting things right first time, avoiding costly post-production rectification of faults, was the order of the day. Since then Porsche has gone from strength to strength. But, although the story of Porsche will always revolve around the 911 and its variants, there’s also been a tale of the underdog through the past six decades.

More than once the company’s so-called ‘entry level’ model has saved the day. The marriage of 911 body with 356 engine in the 912 held sales up in the late sixties, the success of the mid-engine VW-Porsche 914 in the USA, the later front-powered 924 (another ‘VW sports car’), and latterly the Boxster, have all helped to keep the company afloat. And at the same time some really great cars have been created on the way.

No one should ever dismiss a 914 or, say, a 924 because ‘it’s not a 911’. Take a look at the cars detailed here. They’re all classics in their own right – some we must say more affordable than others. But don’t be misled, owning and properly maintaining a Porsche is hardly ever going to be cheap motoring. These cars need real care and attention – but give them just that, and you’ll be well satisfied with Ferdinand’s legacy more than sixty years on!

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