If you take a step into the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, Germany, you’ll be impressed by the electric car that pre-dates 1900 and the reconstruction of the first functioning hybrid car, designed by Ferdinand Porsche in 1900. These early innovations in the auto industry are incredible and aptly placed in the museum of a car company that has thrived on innovation. But they aren’t the first car Porsche made. That came much later.
Today’s Porsche models include popular SUVs and cutting-edge EVs, but the company is still known by many people for its innovative sports cars.
According to Porsche.com, locked in a safe within the Porsche Museum is the hand-written ledger used to document the first Porsche projects. It begins with order number one, which was not a car but engine components for a Hesselman engine. The Hesselman engine was a hybrid engine that combined gas and diesel engines. This proves that Porsche has been working on innovative automobiles since its inception.
The ledger then tells the story of the company’s small-car project and how the company had a hand in creating the Volkswagen, an affordable car “for the people.” But Porsche was not officially Porsche until 1931 when Ferdinand Porsche had it commercially registered. Its first projects were in St. Ulrich, Australia. The company moved to Stuttgart in 1931.
Porsche wasn’t really a car company in the beginning, as Porsche intended to do projects and collect on patent royalties. It evolved into a car company with the help of Ferdinand’s son, Ferry Porsche. Their first race car, the Type 22 mid-engine P, elevated the standards for the racing world.
Technically, Ferdinand Porsche made cars well before Porsche became an automobile company. Depending on how you define firsts, his first car design would be the electric Egger-Lohner (a.k.a. “P1”), which he designed in 1898.
Porsche’s electric P1 had a rear-mounted electric drive power train that weighed just under 300 lbs. It had a sustainable 3HP but could reach 5HP in short bursts when in overdrive mode. Its top speed was 21 MPH.
In a 24-mile electric car race, Ferdinand came in first. The second-place racer finished 18 minutes later. Porsche was destined to become a racing company from the start.
Porsche designed race cars, such as the 1947 Cisitalia 360 before it ever made its own car. The Cisitalia was a super-charged mid-mount engine with 327 HP.
However, none of these vehicles had the Porsche moniker. Porsche didn’t officially make its first vehicle until 50 years after the P1.
The first real car with the Porsche name was the Porsche 356, made in 1948. It was designed by Ferry Porsche. The first Porsche 356/1 roadster had a mid-mounted, air-cooled flat-four engine. It had 35 HP and reached speeds of up to 83 mph.
The first Porsche had an aluminum body and steel lattice tube frame. The original design had a split windscreen with a bar down the middle. It was the only version of the Porsche 356 that had a mid-mounted engine, as later versions had rear-mount.
Eventually, the Porsche 356 inspired the 911, which became the most popular Porsche model. In 2023, Porsche developed a concept model called Porsche Vision 357, which pays homage to the original Porsche 356/1.
While the newest Porsche automobiles are often SUVS or EVs, Porsche doesn’t forget its humble beginnings or how innovation has kept the company thriving over the years.MotorBiscuit 2023-09-18T22:11:52Z dg43tfdfdgfd