THE BACKGROUND STORY

Graciously provided by Steingrim Saug (steingri@idgonline.no)

Ferdinand Porsche designed all manner of machines and cars, but they always bore someone else's name : Austo Daimler, Mercedes-Benz,Zūndapp, Auto Union and Volkswagen. In 1937 he and his designers who worked for Volkswagen, finished drawing Volkswagen Schwimmwagen for the German army. They used the same basic components when they designed the Type 64, Ferdinan's first sport car. It never left the drawing board, but it would have had an aluminium body and a potencial top speed of 152 km/t (95mph). Volkswagen could not see a future of this product, so the firm hawked around Type 64 design while working on a far more complex sports car, Type 114. In 1938 Hitler's Labour Front payed for three prototypes to compete in the Berlin to Rome race in 1939. The race was never run because the war was declared. One car got crashed and the two other was used by the Porsche team for high speed travel during World War 2.

Porsche also designed a second car before the war, the Type 80. This car was ment to set new world records in speed-driving. It had an 44 litre, V12 engine from Daimler-Benz, six wheels (four wheel drive) and an theoretical top speed of 640 km/h (400 mps). It never left the drawing board.

After the war, Porsche and his team were lured to France to design a people's car for the ruling politican party. A rival party won power and Ferdinand, his son Ferry and his daughter Louise Piech's husband Anton were arrested for having assisted the German war effort. It took Louise Piech six month to free Ferry and two years to free Ferdinand and Anton.

Louise Piech led the establishment of the Porsche design company in Gmūnd in Austria in 1946. They started with a fee-paying design for the Cisitalia grand prix car. While working on this car, the team started skretching it's own car in July 1947, based on the popular Volkswagen. This car had the code-name Type 356. Ferdinand lived to see the serial production of the 356 before he died in 1951.


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Michael Sherman
mset@cmu.edu

Last updated March 12, 1996