10 Fascinating Facts About Porsche
- Ferdinand Porsche, the eponymous founder of the company, made the world’s first hybrid electric vehicle…in 1899.
The Lohner-Porsche “Semper Vivus” was essentially an electric car with an internal combustion motor used as a generator. It was also the first car with brakes on all four wheels.
- He was also one of the very first to prove that smaller cars could be faster in a race than larger, more powerful vehicles.
He developed “Sascha” for Austro-Daimler at the request of a rich filmmaker named...Sascha. It was significantly smaller than its competition, yet still won 43 races, including the legendary Targa Florio in 1922.
- Later, he designed the legendary Auto Union grand prix cars that dominated the world.
The Auto Union P (for Porsche) featured a (then revolutionary) mid-mounted 16 cylinder engine. With drivers like Hans Stuck and Tazio Nuvolari—two of the best of their generation—behind the wheel, it was virtually unbeatable.
- The very first VW Beetle was built in Ferdinand’s private villa.
Not a bad place.
- Ferdinand designed the Mercedes-Benz type 80 to be the fastest car on Earth.
In 1939, the car’s projected top speed of 470 mph would’ve obliterated the land speed record. Certain global events meant it never got the chance to make a record run. The 470 mph mark wasn’t approached until a quarter century later.
- Ferdinand Porsche developed a four wheel-drive Formula One car.
The Porsche 360 Cisitalia had 385 hp and could top 200 mph, but because of the owner’s lack of funding and a change to the rules, it never actually raced.
- The prancing horse on the Porsche Crest is similar to the horse on the Ferrari Crest.
For Porsche, it makes sense: it’s actually integral to the coat of arms for the city of Stuttgart, Porsche’s home. Ferrari only uses it because an Italian fighter ace shot down a pilot over Stuttgart in WWI, and the ace’s mother told Ferrari to use the horse as good luck.
- The very first road going sports car made by Porsche was mid-engined.
Everyone thinks of the Porsche 356 as a rear-engined car—and most were—but the first prototype, 356/1, had the engine behind the driver but in front of the rear axle for better balance. It also won its very first race, a hillclimb event in Innsbruck
- For two years, all 356 models were built in an old sawmill in Gmund, Austria.
They were also better, since they were made with aluminum bodies instead of the steel bodies the later German cars had, and were thus much lighter.
- The Dutch Police used to drive the Porsche 356.
Porsche built 10 of them a full year after production had officially stopped, just for the Dutch. Rumor has it that the one you’re looking at belongs to one Jerry Seinfeld.