Porsche – Sports Car King?
Now known for his consulting and work in designing automobiles, Porsche set out to make his mark and put the company’s name on a vehicle.
History of Porsche
The success of the Volkswagen Beetle encouraged Ferdinand to put its name on an automobile. In 1939, the company created a car that was fitting of the Porsche name, the Porsche 64. Even before the Porsche 64 was made, the company’s founder, had achieved remarkable success in the automobile industry.
Born in 1875, he showed an interest in mechanical work from a young age. When he turned 18, he moved to Vienna, Austria from his family home in Liberec, which is the modern-day Czech Republic. In Vienna, Porsche worked for the Bela Egger Electrical company. As a young man, Porsche is credited with developing the electric hub motor.
Ferdinand’s reputation began to grow, and he soon joined Jakob Lohner and Company to make carriages. He soon began work on a motorized carriage that was similar to early versions of cars. While working for Lohner, he developed various ideas for motors. In 1906, he joined Austro-Daimler as the company’s chief designer. His ideas for automobiles continued, and it was as a member of Daimler that Porsche came up with several race car ideas.
It wasn’t until 1951, however, that Porsche had finally created a car to be officially entered into a race. Unfortunately, Ferdinand passed away six months prior to the company’s introduction into motorsports.
After World War II, Ferdinand’s son, Ferdinand Anton, better known as Ferry, took over the running of the business. Ferry had helped design the Volkswagen Beetle along with his father, and he knew plenty about designing cars. Under Ferry’s guidance, Porsche developed automobiles under its own name and soon became a world power in the industry.
Ferry worked hand in hand with his father and learned much of what he knew from the older Porsche. However, Ferry was able to gain further education his father never got. This helped Ferry build the company into what it would later become.
During the 1930s, the family became intertwined with the Nazi party. The family worked to design tanks and other motorized vehicles for the military during World War II. Ferdinand’s success with the Volkswagen Beetle led to further contracts with the Nazis. The connections to the German war effort later resulted in Ferdinand’s imprisonment in France.
In 1951, Porsche entered the Le Mans 24-hour race. The company’s 356 Light Metal Coupe was its first entrant into the legendary competition. Porsche’s win attracted attention from all over the world. The car was adapted to the rigors of motorsports and it’s name grew in the racing industry thanks to the 356.
The 356 wasn’t specifically designed for racing, however. The company’s rethink of sports cars and racing led to the creation of the 550 Spyder. It was Porsche’s first specifically designed motorsports car, and it became synonymous with the carmaker and Le Mans. The Spyder was lightweight and aerodynamic. It recorded numerous successes with the first coming at the Nürburgring in 1953.
Le Mans has long been one of Porsche’s most successful race venues. The German carmaker first won the Le Mans 24-hour race in 1970. The win came 19 years after first entering the French endurance race. The Porsche 917 was the race car that finally secured the company’s first Le Mans win. The design is considered iconic and one of the most memorable race cars of all-time. Porsche has continued to succeed over the years at Le Mans with a variety of great cars. The 936, 956 and 962C have all won the famed endurance race.
The 919 Hybrid has been the carmaker’s latest success at Le Mans. It was introduced in 2014 at the 6 Hours of Silverstone endurance race. A year later, the 919 Hybrid had won its first of three consecutive Le Mans races. The car was discontinued at the end of the 2017 season as Porsche has put its focus on Formula E.
GT3 Cup Challenge
The GT3 Cup Challenge is a race series that sees all teams and drivers use Porsche 911 GT3 Cup automobiles. The North American race series began in 2005 and features two classifications of 911 GT3 cars. The Platinum series sees drivers behind the wheels of 2017 models while the Gold uses 2014 to 2016 911s.
Porsche also sponsors multiple GT3 challenges in our countries around the globe. Australia, Brazil, and Japan are just three of the countries to host GT3 Cup races. Many of the GT3 races involving Porsche feature amateur classes for drivers who dream of being full-fledged race car drivers.
McLaren F1 Engines
In the last few years, McLaren Racing has been in the news for its Honda produced engines. The team’s cars and drivers have had countless problems with the Japanese company’s engines in its vehicles.
There was a time that Porsche was the provider of McLaren’s engine components. In 1982, the company began building turbo engines for McLaren racecars. The project was financed by Techniques d’Avant Garde or TAG. The engines were branded with the TAG name despite Porsche being the designers and builders.
It wasn’t until the 1984 season that McLaren finally had its new TAG-Porsche engines in its racecars. The wait was well worth it as McLaren’s Niki Lauda won the 1984 Formula One World Championship. McLaren didn’t just win the Formula One title, but it completely dominated with its new turbo engines. The team won 12 races during the season.
McLaren won the 1985 and 1986 Formula One seasons behind the driving of Alain Prost. It was again domination by McLaren. The team won the Constructor’s Championship in both 1984 and 1985 behind the TAG-Porsche engines.
After three years of Formula dominance by TAG-Porsche and McLaren, cars supplied with Honda engines began to take over the podiums of the motorsport. In 1988, McLaren and Honda began a relationship which saw the TAG-Porsche engines no longer used by the race team.
24-Hour Le Mans 2018
Outside the LMP categories, Porsche continued its legendary success at the 24-hour Le Mans endurance race in 2018. The Porsche GT Team won the LM GTE Pro class with drivers Michael Christensen, Kevin Estre and Laurens Vanthoor sharing time in the cockpit. The trio drove a Porsche 911 RSR completing 344 laps. The Porsche GT Team trio of Richard Lietz, Gianmaria Bruni, and Frederic Makowiecki finished behind them completing 343 laps.
Porsche entered four teams into the 24-hour Le Mans 2018 event. Each drove Porsche 911 RSRs in the LM GTE Pro class. The cars used for the 2018 race harkened back to Porche’s successful past at the auto race. Two of the 911 RSR cars were painted pink like the legendary Porsche 917/20 from 1971.
Iconic 911 Street Cars
The 911 is the company’s most famous street car. The car first went into production in 1963, and the model is still in production today.
The 1967 911S is considered one of the very best in the series. It was smaller and more dynamic than its American counterparts of the 1960s. It was the first 911 to have Fuchs alloy wheels.
The 1975 911 model was the first Turbo. It possessed a 260-horsepower engine but came with the same design car enthusiasts had grown to love. In 1995, Porsche released the 993 GT2. It came with twin-turbo flat-six from the 911 Turbo and a wider body. The company only made 57 of the 993 GT2 cars. They have been known to sell for more than $2 million today.
Other Famous Porsche Cars
The Carrera GT had a short lifespan, especially compared to the 911. The Carrera GT was only manufactured from 2003 to 2007 with just over 1,200 produced. The main reason for discontinuing the Carrera GT was due to airbag regulation changes in the United States.
The 928 gained fame thanks to the 1983 Al Pacino film “Scarface”. The 928 has been voted as one of the greatest movie cars of all-time by auto aficionados. In the movie, Pacino’s character Tony Montana purchases the Porsche after gaining his fortune by selling drugs. It was a car to show his power and wealth. The 928 was produced between 1977 and 1985. The company originally made the 928 with the power and handling of the 911 but combined it with elements of a luxury sedan. It was hoped its crossover appeal would make it a popular car choice around the world.
Porsche’s 918 Spyder is a mid-engine plug-in hybrid sports car. The V6 engine car comes with two electric motors to deliver additional power. The car hit the market in 2013 and was discontinued in 2015. The car cost buyers over $845,000 when it was released. Its price didn’t put buyers off as the car sold out its production of 918. The 918 Spyder was Porsches second hybrid release. Its first was the Panamera SE Hybrid which is still in production today.
With a move toward electric cars, Porsche unveiled the Taycan in 2018. The car is expected to hit the market in 2019. When it does, the Taycan will be Porsche’s first full-electric sports car. The Taycan will be a four-seat car patterned after the Panamera series. It will be Porsche’s direct competitor to Tesla’s Model S electric car.
Porsche’s move into the full-electric arena goes along with the company being a manufacturer in Formula E. The Taycan’s release should coincide with Porsche’s entry into the fledgling professional race league.
The German car brand is one of the most iconic in the world. Its days of designing and consulting on vehicles for the German military allowed Porsche to become the racing legend it is today. Whether it’s street cars or automobiles for the racetrack, Porsche has created some of the most legendary vehicles on the market.