Porsche, Ferdinand

(1875-1951)
   automobile design engineer; fa-mous for racing cars and the Volkswagen design. Born in the Bohemian village of Maffersdorf (now Vratislavice), he apprenticed as a tinsmith in his father's factory while privately studying physics and tinkering with electricity. In 1893 he went to Vienna to train at the electrical firm of Bela Egger; within five years he directed the company's testing room. His skill at devising components for automobiles led Ludwig Lohner of Vienna's Hof-Wagenfabrik Lohner to hire him in 1898. By 1900 he was the company's chief of development. The Lohner-Porsche Elektromobil was a sensation at the 1900 Paris Exhibition, bringing Porsche wide recognition. In 1905 he was hired by Daimler's Austrian division. Not only did his fame increase for his design of midsize and large touring cars, but he became known as a racing driver. During the war his designs for aircraft engines and heavy locomotives earned him the Franz-Josephs-Orden and an honorary doctorate from Vienna's Technische Hochschule. He became Gener-aldirektor in 1917 of Daimler's six-thousand-employee Vienna-Neustadt plant.
   Although Porsche was celebrated for the expensive six-cylinder AD-617, his first postwar design, his personal ambition was production of a small, four-cylinder racing car called the "Sascha-Wagen"—a car that failed to impress Daimler. After the death in 1922 of his favorite test driver, Porsche impulsively quit his Vienna position to join Daimler in Stuttgart as technical director. When his two-liter Targa-Florio achieved an impressive racing victory in April 1924, Stuttgart's Technische Hochschule awarded him an honorary doctorate. But his relationship with Daimler (Daimler-Benz since 1926) was increasingly uneasy.
   In 1929 Porsche moved to Graz as chief design engineer for Steyr-Werke. When the depression* ruined Steyr, it was acquired by Daimler-Benz. Averse to returning to Daimler, Porsche opened his own Stuttgart-based design firm. From a shaky inception, the office became a brain trust for automobile proto-types, especially for Auto-Union, a recent merger of Horsch, Audi, Wanderer, and Rasmussen. For Zundapp-Motorrad-Werke he developed a small car that was a rough prototype for the Volkswagen.
   Hitler's* appointment generated considerable opportunity: the Führer was in-trigued by fast cars. In June 1934, with his sixteen-cylinder racing car breaking records throughout Europe, Porsche was commissioned to design an inexpensive car for mass production: the Volkswagen ("People's Car"). Designed with an air-cooled rear engine, it went through numerous variations. Despite enormous promise and the assembly of a modern plant in Wolfsburg, VW production was limited before 1945 to military models.
   REFERENCES:Benz and Graml, Biographisches Lexikon; Peter Müller, Ferdinand Porsche.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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  • Porsche, Ferdinand — SUBJECT AREA: Automotive engineering, Land transport [br] b. 3 September 1875 Maffersdorf, Austria d. 30 January 1952 Stuttgart, Baden Württemberg, Germany [br] Austrian automobile engineer, designer of the Volkswagen car. [br] At the age of… …   Biographical history of technology

  • Porsche, Ferdinand — ▪ Austrian engineer born Sept. 3, 1875, Maffersdorf, Austria died Jan. 30, 1951, Stuttgart, W. Ger.       Austrian automotive engineer who designed the popular Volkswagen car.       Porsche became general director of the Austro Daimler Company in …   Universalium

  • Porsche, Ferdinand Anton Ernst — ▪ 1999       Austrian car designer and businessman who worked with his father on the design of the Volkswagen Beetle and later, after having taken over the vehicle design firm that his father had founded and given the family s name, transformed… …   Universalium

  • Ferdinand A. Porsche — Ferdinand Porsche um 1905 Ferdinand Porsche (* 3. September 1875 in Maffersdorf bei Reichenberg, Böhmen; † 30. Januar 1951 in Stuttgart) war ein Autokonstrukteur. Er zählt mit Hans Ledwinka und Siegfried Marcus zu den bedeutendsten Automobi …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Ferdinand Piech — Ferdinand Karl Piëch Ferdinand Karl Piëch (* 17. April 1937 in Wien) ist ein österreichischer Manager, Großaktionär der Porsche Automobil Holding SE, Gesellschafter der Porsche Holding GmbH und seit 2002 Vorsitzender des Aufsichtsrates der …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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