Porsche is a vehicle manufacturer based out of Stuttgart, Germany. The company's full name is Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG, although most people know it as Porsche or Porsche AG. They specialize in producing supercars, hypercars, high-performance sports cars, sedans, and SUVs. While the company was originally a stand-alone business, today it's owned by Volkswagen, which in turn is owned by Porsche Automobil Holding SE.
The Porsche brand has become synonymous with speed, power, and luxury. Whenever someone thinks of the name, they immediately think of money--Porsches are not cheap. This extends beyond the price, though. A Porsche is a very high quality machine that, with the proper care, will last for years.
History of Porsche
In 1931, Ferdinand Porsche, an Austrian engineer, founded his small automotive company in Austria. At first, Porsche offers consulting and development services, but after moving to Stuttgart, that changed. The German government commissions Porsche to create a car. The result was the Volkswagen Beetle, which would go on to become one of the most popular and best-selling vehicle designs. It provided the basis for the Porsche 64, which was designed and released during 1939.
During World War II, the company manufactured several different vehicles for the military. The company even designed a few different tanks, including the Maus super-heavy tank. Following the end of the war, Porsche was removed as chairman and the company came under the management of Ivan Hirst, a major in the British Army.
In 1947, Ferdinand's son Ferry Porsche created his own company, Porsche KonstruktionenGesmbH. The prototype car designed by Ferry and his sister Louise would go on to become the Porsche 356. This car made use of a number of parts used in the Volkswagen Beetle because parts were difficult to get in post-war Germany.
In 1972, after years of successful design, including success in racing, Ferry decided to take the company public. He felt that Porsche needed to grow beyond a family business. The executive board was created from a number of people outside the family, while Ferry and other Porsche family members remained as part of a supervisory board. The public company was placed under the leadership of Dr. Ernst Fuhrmann, who had previously worked as an engineer for the company during the 50s.
In the 1980s, Peter W. Schutz, an American, took over the company. However, he was replaced within a few years by Arno Bohn. Bohn's tenure as leader of Porsche was marked by a number of costly mistakes, and he was quickly replaced. Porsche employee Heinz Branitzki served as interim CEO until WendelinWiedeking was appointed in 1993. He turned the company around, and Porsche once again started to turn a major profit.
In 2007, the company was restructured, and Dr. Ingh.c. F. Porsche AG was renamed to Porsche SE. It became a holding company for the Porsche family's stake in a number of other companies, including the original Porsche AG and Volkswagen AG. A new Porsche AG company was also formed to handle all of the Porsche manufacturing. In 2009, Volkswagen AG and Porsche SE merged their car manufacturing divisions.
- Porsche Wikipedia entry contains an overview of the company
- Porsche History from About.com the history of the company
- Porsche AG from 1948 to 2007 a look at the company from the official Porsche website
- Ferdinand Porsche a biography of Porsche's founder
- June 8, 1948: a day in history History Channel's look at the day the first Porsche was completed
Unique Features of Porsche Cars
Porsche has made use of a number of unique designs over the years. One of the first was the Fuhrmann engine, a modification of the 547 engine by Ernst Fuhrmann. Fuhrmann built this engine in the early 1950s before leaving Porsche to work for Goetze. He later returned to the company as Technical Director and then chairman of the board. This engine was a four-cylinder boxer engine that featured two overhead camshafts and was driven by bevel gears.
Porsche is one of the few cars that falls into the sports luxury category. These cars are designed to be driven every day of the week, not just on weekends or for special occasions like some sports cars are. This unique combination makes Porsche more accessible to the general public. Anyone can purchase and drive a Porsche.
Most models can also be customized in a number of different ways. The Porsche Exclusive program allows customers to actually submit different requests for their vehicle. As long as these requests meet Porsche's safety standards, they will honor them. This means every Porsche driver can create their own car.
- Porsche and Sports Luxury a discussion with a Porsche director about the company's unique role
- The Fuhrmann Engine a look at Fuhrmann's work on engines at Porsche
- The First Porsche in the World a look at some of these early features
- Porsche's Electric Car some new unique features of Porsche's electric car
- Unique Facts about Porsche from National Geographic
Different Models of Porsche
Since its founding, Porsche has built a number of different models. Many of these cars have been praised by automobile lovers as being some of the best vehicles in existence. Of course, some of their models stand out more than others. Here are a few of the top Porsche cars.
The Porsche 911 is one of the most well-known models. It was originally introduced in 1963 as Porsche's two door high performance sports car. Its distinctive design was built on the Porsche 356, but it used a rear-mounted boxer engine and a number of other unique features. Porsche continued to work on the 911 over the years, evolving it into the 911 Carrera RS, the Porsche 911964, the 996, and other models. The 1973 911 Carrera RS is, to many, the absolute best 911 model ever made. It uses a larger engine than other models and was designed to meet the criteria for a race car. Only 1580 of these cars were produced.
Another popular model is the 939. It was produced during the late 1980s and, like the 911 model it was based on, was designed for racing. It could hit 197 mph and had 4 wheel drive. The vehicle also featured a very expensive turbo system and body work. There were 283 Porsche 939s sold, all of which cost more to make than they actually sold for.
The 924 S2 was very different. In fact, some Porsche fans don't really consider it a classic Porsche at all. The vehicle used a front engine, rear wheel drive layout that was very different from most other Porsche designs. It was only used on the 944 and the 968, two previous models. This was Porsche's attempt to make a budget car, but while it did help the company keep afloat, they weren't popular with collectors.
The Boxster is another vehicle that was different than the classic 911. Like the 924 S2, it was designed to save money and turn a profit while still looking like a traditional Porsche. It was popular with those who didn't want to spend a lot of money on a car but still wanted a luxury automobile.
These are just a few of the top Porsche models. The company has produced many more that have been incredibly popular.
- First Porsche Found the first Porsche in the world was found in a warehouse
- The Top 10 Most Popular Porsches a list of some of the best models
- The Porsche 911 a timeline of this popular model
- Best Porsche Models of All Time another top 10 list
- The 4 Most Popular Porsche Sports Car Models includes the 911
Popularity of Porsche
As you'd expect from a brand that's this well known, Porsche cars have appeared in a number of places in popular culture. The car is often used in television, books, and movies as an easy way of showing that a character is rich. All it takes is showing a character getting into a Porsche. Characters in Legally Blonde, Risky Business, Gone in 60 Seconds, and Weekend at Bernie's all drive Porches.
The Porsche has also been the go-to car for a number of celebrities. For example, Janis Joplin loved the brand. They gave her 1965 356C Cabriolet a custom paint job, making it one of the most unique Porches on the road. The car can be seen as part of a traveling exhibit on Joplin.
In 1953, just a few years after the Porsche came to the U.S., it was included in an exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. A 1952 Porsche 1500 Super appeared in the exhibit for a number of years.
- Porsche's Top 10 Pop Culture Moments includes images and videos
- Classic Porsche Pop Culture Moments features some other Porsche products
- Porsche and Pop Culture Branding how Porsche has built up its brand
- Bad Boys, Great Porsche all about the Porsche used in the Bad Boys film
- The Risky Business Porsche the history of this Porsche 928