La vera storia della Porsche nella Germania nazista

Behind the Porsche brand is a prodigious story of success and innovation strictly tight to german history.

Let’s start to tell about the Porsche history, by 1898, when Ferdinand Porsche had just left his job to kickstart a new career in the automotive world. During the next few decades, he created some of the fastest and most groundbreaking vehicle designs for other car manufacturers, turning himself into one of the greatest engineers of all time. And yet, after founding his own car company, his success led him became embroiled in military projects for the Nazi regime, which landed him in prison and eventually even cost him his life.

Now we’re going on a journey to uncover the true story of Porsche and how they managed to transform themselves into one of the greatest luxury car brands known today.

Ferdinand Porsche was born in September 1875, in a small village in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Now a territory of the Czech Republic. While carriages, trains and bicycles were the mainstream transportation at the time, and the very first automobiles were slowly spreading around the globe. Porsche grew up learning the trade of his father, who ran a blacksmithing business. However, he never showed a personal interest in the family business and instead put his main focus on school, hoping to find his career elsewhere. Unfortunately, Ferdinand lost his older brother when he was 14, which led him to drop out of school and work full time at his father’s workshop, as he was now the oldest son to oversee the family’s business. These times proved to be difficult for Ferdinand, as he reluctantly followed his father’s footsteps into a job he never enjoyed doing.

There was, however, something else he found fulfilling to explore in his spare time. Electricity. At the time, candles and gas lights were still common, but in the late 19th century, electric light bulbs were slowly becoming the new norm.

Porsche became obsessed with the light bulb and began experimenting with electric circuits in the attic of his house. His father, on the other hand, wasn’t pleased with his new hobby and frequently told him to stop busying himself with such nonsense. But after noticing how passionate and obsessed Ferdinand was with electricity, he decided to enroll his son in the Imperial Technical School of Reichenbach to develop his knowledge of engineering.

There, Porsche quickly learned the basics, and within just a few months into his studies, he was able to build his own electric generator and install electric light bulbs all over the house. At this point, his father could no longer ignore his son’s talent, and so he finally gave in and let him pursue his own path. Little did they know this new path would go on to help pioneer a brand new industry Automobiles.

In the year 1893, at the age of 18, Ferdinand left his home and landed his first job at Bella Egger and Co, a manufacturer of electric machinery in the city of Vienna. There he was soon recognized for his traits as a brilliant and skilled engineer and quickly rose through the ranks, becoming the man in charge. During his time at Bella Eggar. Ferdinand Porsche built the company’s first electric wheel hub motor. This electric motor was meant to be attached to any vehicle’s wheel and make it move directly. At the time, it was commonly just used for bicycles. But soon after, Ferdinand was developing other ideas for this motor. Around this time, the first automobiles were beginning to emerge around the region and created enormous excitement not only among the people, but also the engineers who were looking for ways to enter the new industry and Ferdinand was no exception. After five years working for Bella Eggar, he decided to quit his job and started working for Yakub, Lohner and Co, who had recently stopped producing carriages to focus on building self powered vehicles. It was here where the 23 year old Ferdinand used his electric motors to build his first ever automobile, the Porsche P1. The Porsche P1 was a fully electric car built using a wooden carriage and had an approximate 49 mile range.

The car was meant for racing, but as impressive as it was due to the heavy lead acid batteries it carried, the car could only go up to 21 miles per hour. It’s important to note that the automobiles of that time were yet to be seen as a means of transportation. Instead, they were mostly built for competition and tested for racing all across Europe and America. Porsche continued to improve the design of his vehicle until 1900, when he added an internal combustion engine to power the electric motors of the vehicle, thus creating the world’s first gasoline electric hybrid car. The loaner Porsche Electromobility. This new vehicle would go on to win at various motor sports events while breaking several Austrian speed records traveling at a top speed of 36 miles per hour. However, despite Porsche’s hybrid vehicle being a brilliant mechanical work of art and far ahead of its time, it also demonstrated why electric cars failed over the decades. The vehicle’s short mile range and weight of almost two tons halted the development of an electric car for nearly a century. The partnership between Porsche and Lohner ended a few years later, and soon after the Austria Daimler car manufacturer recruited Porsche as their chief designer.

Daimler at the time was the leader in the field of modern combustion engines, and it was here where Porsche designed his first purely petrol motor automobile, the Austro Daimler Miah, in 1908. His time at the company proved to be a big stepping stone in his career, leading to his big break in the racing world when he developed his next automobile, the Austro Daimler Model 2780. This 85 horsepower vehicle was capable of reaching top speeds of 85 miles per hour and was specifically built for the popular Prince Henry trial race in 1910, where it took a first, second and third place victory. This win earned the young mechanic greater popularity and justified his designation as professor at the company. However, when the First World War broke out in 1914, a massive rush to produce war supplies spread all over Europe, and the Austro Daimler manufacturer contributed large quantities of machinery to the Austro-Hungarian army.

Austro Daimler 2780

Porsche was also drawn into the fold and made a name for himself by creating groundbreaking designs for military aircrafts and airship engines, as well as artillery tractors such as the MX 17 Goliath. Establishing himself as one of the best engineers of his time After the war ended in 1918, Ferdinand Porsche returned building race cars, and by 1922, another car rolled out from the factory’s floor. The Austro Daimler Sascha Porsche believed that building a smaller vehicle than his competitors would allow his race cars to outperform those with much bigger engines. And so he put his newly built car to the test. To the surprise of many, the Sascha would go on to win an impressive 43 out of 53 races, including the Targa Florio in 1922. The following year, Ferdinand Porsche moved to Stuttgart, the capital of Germany, and became the technical director and chief engineer for the Daimler Division, who later merged with Benz and C to become Daimler-Benz. During his time at Daimler-Benz, Porsche would design and build the luxurious Mercedes-Benz SE series, which more or less paved the way for high performance sports cars that were suitable for both racing and public use. And in 1928, Ferdinand Porsche introduced what is arguably one of the fastest and greatest sports cars of his era, the Mercedes-Benz SSK. The SSK or Supersport. KURTZ had a 7.1 liter six cylinder engine powered by 200 to 300 horsepower. Even the slowest of their versions came with a top speed of 190 kilometres per hour, and the ones with 300 engine horsepower could go as high as 235 kilometres per hour. This Mercedes-Benz model became the absolute champion of the 500 miles of Argentina in 1929, followed by more victories at the 1929 and 1930 Cordoba Grand Prix races, as well as the 1930 Irish Grand Prix. The winning streak continued with several more Grand Prix victories until reaching its peak in 1931, when they took yet another first place victory at the Amelia race. At the time, it was the best, fastest and most valuable sports vehicle in the world. Porsche also built a slicker version of the SSK, the trusty Roadster, which became a phenomenon for its extravagant body appearance, and further cemented himself as one of the greatest car designers of his era.

Porsche Austro Daimler Sascha

However, shortly after the car was introduced, Ferdinand Porsche had grown tired of the creative differences between him and the Mercedes-Benz board, so he left the company and went to work for another car manufacturer. Unfortunately, that company collapsed shortly after, mainly due to the Great Depression and Porsche was now left unemployed despite the economic crisis. It was at this moment that he decided to make the biggest decision of his career, founding his own car company, Porsche GmbH. He brought in many of his former associates to work for his new company, and probably the most important of them all ferry Porsche Ferdinand’s own son. Much like his father, Ferri also took an interest in designing and engineering. He showed great promise in learning his profession quickly, working whenever and wherever he could to prove his abilities to his talented father. Initially, the Porsche company didn’t start building cars under their own brand, but instead offered consulting and motor development projects for other car manufacturers. However, despite being one of the most famous engineers in Germany, there was one major problem Clients were not coming in the. Country at the time was still recovering from the economic ruins of the First World War, and the demand for public automobiles was nearly nonexistent while the business struggled to take off. Ferdinand received a letter one day that would completely change the company’s trajectory, and it came from a pretty surprising source.

In 1933, Adolf Hitler became the chancellor of Germany and took a special interest in automobiles. He recruited the best car engineers in the country, including Porsche, and sat down for an important meeting. The mad Titan wanted every German citizen to own a car that could seat a family of five and be fuel efficient and cheap. In fact, so cheap that it would need to cost 990 reichsmarks which many engineers considered to be impossible. He called it the Volkswagen or the people’s car. Porsche submitted his design and won the contract for Hitler. This alliance set up an unusual but great relationship between the two. Hitler needed a creative mind to design his ambitious car, while Porsche needed political backing for his company so he wouldn’t have to bother with money or finances. Therefore, in 1934, Porsche and his team began to work on building one of the most successful cars in human history the Volkswagen Beetle. The Volkswagen type one, later known as the Beetle for its body shape was a two door car with an air cooled engine in the back, which helped the engine require minimal maintenance and made the steering easier to handle thanks to its weight balance. It was also proved to be very fuel efficient with its mileage of 31.4 miles per gallon, which is still impressive even by today’s standards. Right after 300,000 orders were placed for the beetle, it was the biggest achievement Porsche had accomplished up to that point, and he was now ready to see his creation in working order. However, as the Volkswagen factory was getting ready to mass produce the car, another major event was taking place that would directly send Porsche’s once bright career down a darker path. Hitler invaded Poland in September of 1939, which drove Great Britain and France to declare war against Germany, marking the beginning of the Second World War.

Wolksvagen Beetle

Suddenly, the general production of the beetle was immediately put on hold as the Volkswagen factory began making war production its first priority. Being one of the best engineers in the country and a close friend to Hitler. Porsche inevitably became embroiled in military projects for the Nazi army. He began developing off road military vehicles and battle machinery such as the Schwinn wagon, the military version of the Beetle, the Elephant Tank Destroyer, and the V one flying bomb missile. However, even though Porsche was among Hitler’s favorite engineers when it came to designing tanks, he could not meet Hitler’s expectations. You see, there was a contest made by Hitler to see who would win the contract to mass produce the tiger, a heavy tank that would be used in the war. In this case, Porsche designed the Ferdinand a hybrid tank that could run on petrol electric transmissions.

Although the tank was a revolutionary design, its engines were far too complicated and overengineered, which led to many problems and eventually broke down during the trial. But after losing the contest to Henschel and son, Porsche found himself in a huge mess. Before he even submitted his prototype, he had already built 100 chassis for his concept to salvage his designs. The Germans turned 90 Ferdinand heavy tanks into tank destroyers and renamed them as elephant anti tanks. They became very effective in the war, but due to their engine problems and mobility issues, most of them broke down and were lost on the battlefield.

Ferdinand Porsche received the SS rank from the Nazi Party because of its merits.

Thanks to Ferdinand’s genius, the Porsche company went from making 3000 reichsmarks in profit in 1934 to over 2 million by 1944.

After the war ended, Ferdinand Porsche was arrested by the French government and sent to prison for war crimes due to his membership and his close relationship with Hitler. With him in prison, it was now down to one man to take on the torch and lead the Porsche brand in a new and brighter direction. That man was Ferdinand’s only son. Ferry Porsche.

Ferry had inherited his father’s love for machines as well as his talent, and had already built several vehicles. Among them was the Schwinn wagon, which in German means swimming car. This car was designed to be viable on land as well as water, and was a great service to the German soldiers during the war. Because of this, ferry himself was arrested along with his father and was thrown in jail for several months. As a matter of fact, the only reason he was released by the French government was so that he could find the money he needed to bail his father out of prison.

Ferry raised the necessary money by signing a contract with the Italian car manufacturer Sis Italia, where he built the Italia 360, an extremely advanced vehicle for its time. This car was meant to participate in Grand Prix races, but due to the company’s financial resources and a change of rules in the race competition, it was never put on the racetrack. Luckily, Ferry received his cut beforehand and he was able to free his father after 22 months behind bars. Unfortunately, the terrible conditions in which the French held Ferdinand prisoner directly led to his irreversible ill health, which troubled him until his last breath. And so with Ferdinand’s poor health preventing his return to work, the responsibility fell on ferry Porsche to step up and apply his father’s ideas to their new company. He noticed that the car manufacturer he previously worked for, Sis Italia, was building small sports cars with a Fiat engine. So he asked himself, Why can’t we do the same with Volkswagen parts? He met with the managing director of Volkswagen and struck a deal that would allow him to use their parts as well as the distribution of their network. He also provided the documents which proved that the Volkswagen Beetle was developed by his father before the war, which got Volkswagen to agree to pay a license fee to Porsche for every VW Beetle they built.

These negotiations proved that ferry wasn’t just a skilled engineer, but also a brilliant businessman. Most importantly, these agreements with Volkswagen gave the Porsche company the financial resources they needed to begin experimenting and developing their own vehicles. And so in 1948, Ferry introduced the very first car that would bear the family’s name. The Porsche 356 The 356 was a small two door roadster powered by a Volkswagen air cooled engine and had a top speed of 87 miles per hour. It wasn’t the most powerful car, nor was it the fastest. But Ferry Porsche continued improving the design, eventually making it faster and smoother to drive. He took the vehicle to race that same year in the city of Innsbruck, Austria, where it earned a first place victory, laying the foundation for Porsche’s future success in the racing world. Although its sales were initially low, the 356 was loved among car enthusiasts, including Ferry’s father, who was very proud of his son and supported the successful debut of the car. Ferdinand Porsche also visited the Volkswagen factory one more time in 1950 and was happy to see his vision for the Beetle finally being realized. Unfortunately, he wasn’t around long enough to see how the beetle or the Porsche brand would expand all over the globe as he died only a year later at the age of 75. Shortly after his death, sales of the Porsche 356 skyrocketed after winning a race at Le Monde in 1951 and soon after. New models such as the 356 Speedster and 356 Carrera, were also offered to the public, quickly, capturing the hearts of many sports drivers and celebrities. But while the 356 was a turning point in Porsche’s history, it was still only a variation of the beetle with minor changes.

Porsche’s customers at that point were growing weary of its body design, so they needed to design and build something completely new while still remaining recognizable as their brand. That was until the day that one of Ferry’s sons stepped in and introduced a new vehicle that would take the Porsche brand to a completely new level. Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, just like his father. Ferrie followed in the family’s footsteps from early on and was actively involved in the automotive industry. But he was more into design and didn’t consider himself an engineer, but rather as a talented craftsman in shaping. After receiving practical training from the body design department of Porsche, he decided to take part in the creation of their new car generation and began designing one of the most iconic sports cars in modern history.

The 911, the Porsche 911 was far more powerful than the 356. It replaced the four cylinder from its predecessor to a six cylinder boxer engine and was notable for having an air cooled engine in the rear, which, due to its weight balance, improved the steering and acceleration of the vehicle. All these elements combined allowed for a driving experience so smooth it could not be matched by any other automobile. And unlike many other sports cars, the 911 was not only fast, but also very reliable. So reliable. In fact, it is estimated that over 70% of all 911, built to this day, are still on the road. The new model was launched in September of 1964, and in the following years, it quickly became their best selling vehicle, regardless of how unique their style or driving experience was.

Porsche 911

Porsche kept delivering what the people wanted, launching faster models with more powerful horsepower such as the 911 Carrera S and 911 Turbo, which drove the company’s annual sales to over 20,000 units by the 1970s. And yet, despite already establishing themselves as one of the best sports car manufacturers, the 9/11 took it even further by expanding into the racing world. And this was another field where Porsche once again set itself apart. The car debuted on the racetrack at the Monte Carlo rally of 1965, where it earned a respectable fifth place. In the following years, Porsche improved its performance and conquered three consecutive victories at the Monte Carlo rally from 1968 to 1970. From then on, the new model has gone on to win at almost every other motorsport event, such as the Targa Florio, the Paris Dakar, the 24 hours of Daytona and numerous other rally and GT championships becoming one of the most successful competition cars in history. But around that same time, Ferry Porsche sadly stepped down from his role at the company, and since none of his sons were interested in taking over his position, the family Council decided to split the company shares and leave someone else in charge, marking the end of the family’s involvement in the company. Nevertheless, Porsche kept upgrading to better and more sporty vehicles further cementing themselves as one of the leading sports car brands on the market. But nothing lasts forever. A dark time was right around the corner for Porsche, and in order to survive, they would make one of their most drastic decisions yet. In 1986, a big drop in the dollar exchange rate and overall cost of the high quality production of their vehicles caused many problems for the Porsche company.

Porsche 911

By 1991, their sales dropped to 23,000 units, which was half the number of cars they had sold just five years prior. The company’s losses amounted to 240 million deutsche marks, and by the end of 1993, Porsche was barely scraping by, selling around 14,000 units per year. In simple terms, they were on the brink of disaster. The company needed to do something fast or risk bankruptcy. So they made the bold decision to announce that they were going into the SUV business. At the time, SUVs were becoming the new trend and for the very first time surpassed the sales of regular passenger cars in America. in 1999.

However, the project received a lot of backlash, and the reason behind it is not hard to see. Porsche, by tradition, had always made high quality luxury sports cars capable of performing both on the road and on the racetrack. So building a family friendly S.U.V. didn’t sit well with the brand. In fact, it was going to be the first time that a Porsche car would have four doors. In spite of all the controversy. Porsche introduced the Cayenne in 2002, and to the surprise of many, it not only became their best selling vehicle, but also a fan favorite. You see, the cayenne might have looked different, but it still contained the same features that many lovers of the brand were familiar with, such as strong driving performance and reliability, and thanks to their luxurious interior space and comfort. Sales of the Cayenne ended up saving the company from bankruptcy.

As of today, the Cayenne and more recently, the Macan make up over 70% of Porsche’s sales in America and are considered by some to be the Sportiest SUVs on the market. Still, the brand has never lost touch with their sports car roots and their new models, such as the Porsche Panamera and the fully electric Taycan are among their best selling sports vehicles to date. Porsche is now owned by the Volkswagen Group and strongly remains as one of the greatest luxury car brands in the world.