Who hasn’t heard of Porsche? In 2006 it won the most prestigious automobile brand for over 70 years of excellence and dedication to the four-wheel god. Established at first as a consulting and development company by Dr. Ing. Ferdinand Porsche in 1931, Porsche SE has since become synonymous with luxurious sports cars as well as cutting edge technology.
Situated in downtown Stuttgart, Porsche’s first contract of developing a people’s car, a Volkswagen, appointed by the German government. The result was one of the most famous cars in history, one of the best sold and one of the most easily recognizable out there, the Beetle. Many features of the Beetle would find their place on the first ever Porsche, the 64, developed in 1939.
During WWII the Porsche factory turned to making vehicles for the German Army, such as the Kubelwagen and the Schwimmwagen as well as contributing to the production of Tiger and Elefant tanks. After the war Ferdinand was imprisoned for war crimes for 20 months and was during that time that his son, Ferry Porsche, decided to build a new car to suit his needs – the 356.
The success of the 356 and the death of Ferdinand Porsche in 1951 gave Ferry the confidence to follow in his father’s footsteps and continue designing cars. One of his most famous designs was the Spyder 550, a car that would prove very successful in races.
By now, the general line of the company seemed evident, as in 1964 another sporty model, the 911, another car with a air-cooled, boxer, rear-mounted engine. The design team for this car was led by Ferry’s oldest son, Ferdinand Alexander Porsche. this car would take the legacy of the 550 Spyder even further, winning races and rallies. Testimony to the success of the 911 is the fact that it’s still in production today, despite being heavily modified.
Porsche was going to change its status in 1972 from a limited partnership to a public limited company, which meant that now Porsche would be run by a board of directors supervised by family members. In 1974, at the Paris Auto Show, Porsche unveils the new 911 Turbo, with exhaust turbocharger and pressure regulator.
When the 924 was entered in production in 1975, Porsche took a leap of faith because it had not experienced with front-mounted engines for a long time. By Porsche standards, the 928 was an oddity, with its front-mounted V8 engine made out of metal alloy. Then, in 1981, a new transaxle model is added to the Porsche line-up, the 944. The high-performance Porsche 959 is unveiled at the Frankfurt Auto Show in 1985. It will go on to win a lot of races and rallies, the best known being the Paris-Dakar.
A new technological leap was made in 1988 when the 911 Carrera 4 with all-wheel drive was introduced on the market. Then, in 1989, the “Tiptronic” automatic gearbox system is fitted on Porsches. In 1991, Porsche becomes the first car manufacturer to fit driver and passenger airbags on all its models.
The Boxter model is introduced in 1996 after 3 and a half years of development. That same year, Porsche celebrates 1million units being produced. Two years later, Ferry Porsche dies at the age of 88 but the company moves on and has a great season at Le Mans with the 911 GT1, coming in first and second. This was going to be only the beginning for Porsche, which continued with the very sporty and high-performance models Boxster S and the Carrera GT in 2000.
In 2002 Porsche entered the SUV market with the unconventional Cayenne and its later versions, the Cayenne Turbo and Turbo S. The next model on the line-up for Porsche, announced for 2009 is the Panamera, a four-door sedan. With this new model, Porsche seems set to take on a whole new market, directly competing with other luxury brands such as Mercedes, BMW and Audi.