Porsche AG, owned by Volkswagon AG, is a German automobile manufacturer specializing in high-performance sports cars, SUVs and sedans.
Porsche was formed in 1931 in Stuttgart and initially only offered motor vehicle development work and consulting and did not build any cars under its own name.
One of the first assignments the new company received was from the German government to design a “volkswagon” (a car for the people). This resulted in the Volkswagen Beetle, one of the most successful car designs of all time. The Porsche 64 was developed in 1939 using many components from the Beetle.
Between 1946-1947, Porsche also designed the Cisitalia Grand Prix, for the postwar 1.5-litre supercharged Grand Prix class. Built by Italian sports car manufacturer Cisitalia, the car was introduced in 1949. It is also known as the Porsche 360. An extremely advanced design, it proved too complex to build for the small Italian firm, leading to its liquidation in 1949. Due to this and the fact that supercharged engines were banned for the 1952 Formula One season, the car never raced.
Porsche’s signature designs have, from the beginning, featured air-cooled rear-engine configurations (like the VW Beetle), rare for other car manufacturers, but producing automobiles that are very well balanced.
The first models of what was to become the 356 were built in a small sawmill in Gmünd, Austria and were first road certified in 1948. Production was later moved to Stuttgart in 1950. The 356 originated as a coupé only – over time a variety of other styles appeared, including roadster, convertible, cabriolet, and a very rare split-roof.
The basic design of the 356 remained the same throughout the end of its lifespan in 1965, with evolutionary, functional improvements rather than annual superficial styling changes. One of the most desirable collector models is the Porsche 356 Speedster, introduced in late 1954.
Janis Joplin’s 1965 Porsche 356 SC Cabriolet with its psychedelic “History of the Universe” mural was sold for a whopping $1,760,000, at Sotheby’s “driven By Disruption” auction in 2015’
In 1964, after a fair amount of success in motor-racing with various models including the 550 Spyder, the company launched the Porsche 911, another air-cooled, rear-engined sports car, this time with a six-cylinder “boxer” engine.
The 911 has become Porsche’s most well-known and iconic model – successful on the race-track, in rallies, and in terms of road car sales. Far more than any other model, the Porsche brand is defined by the 911.
It still remains in production, however the current model 911s share only the basic mechanical and styling features with the original car.
In 1971, the 917 was featured in the Steve McQueen film “Le Mans”. In 2017 the car driven by McQueen in the film was sold at auction for $14m, a record price for a Porsche.
Porsche is the most successful brand in motorsport, scoring a total of more than 28,000 victories, including a record 19 outright wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Porsche is currently the world’s largest race car manufacturer.
Porsche is synonymous with luxury, quality and speed. The Luxury Institute of New York awarded its prestigious title to Porsche in 2006.