The story of Porsche could begin in 1950 with the introduction of the Porsche 356 to the United States by Max Hoffman. It could begin in 1948, when the first auto bearing the name of Porsche came out. However, to get a real grip on the heritage of Porsche, you must go back as far as 1875. In September of that year, Ferdinand Porsche was born in the bohemian village of Haffersdorf. Ferdinand Porsche showed indications of his technical genius at the age of 18 when he wired the family home for electricity. His only formal education was received when he was a part-time engineering student in Vienna, although the title 'Doctor' is often appended to his name.
By the time he was 25, Porsche had gone into automotive design. The Viennese firm of Loyner & Co. accepted his first car design. Over the next twenty years, he successfully associated himself with every major car manufacturer in Germany, and he designed about a dozen of the most technically important automobiles in history at the same time.
When he worked for Mercedes-Benz, he helped to create the SSK series, while for NSU, he designed the Auto Union Wandered and the Type 32, which as an ancestor of the Volkswagen Beetle. His disagreements with Mercedes-Benz over the company's engineering policies prompted him to establish his own engineering group, which became Porsche A.G.
He collected a premier group of engineers to work under the name of "Doctor of Engineering Ferdinand Porsche, Inc. Construction Facility for Land, Air, and Sea Transportation in Stuttgart. His son, Ferry, was one of his employees, and his major interest was in sport and racing cars. The elder Porsche and his engineers were busy. They developed for Steyr, a luxury sedan in Austria, but this vehicle did not make it out of the prototype stage.
They also worked for Auto Union, which is now Audi, the firm that created the Front, the first front-drive economy car in the world. They also created the mid-engine Grand Prix cars and supercharged V-12 and V-16 engines. These, along with the racers from Mercedes-Benz, dominated European auto racetracks for almost ten years.
The company created its most well-known designs for NSU and Zundapp. Prototypes were characterized by Porsche's torsion-bar suspension and rear-mounted engine. Neither of the firms manufactured the designs, so Porsche sold the idea to the German government. He then provided the oversight on the construction of a plant in Wolfsburg to build the design.
He called it the Type 60, but the world knows it as the Volkswagen Beetle. After World War II, the Porsche Company began to create the vehicles that now bear the name of Porsche. Almost one hundred years later, Porsche became the marque, and the family that developed the unique and lasting contributions to automotive design and engineering has gone down in history.
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