Porsche, Ferdinand, born 03-09-1875 in Maffersdorf, third of five children of Anton Porsche and his wife Anna. He at the age of 14 Ferdinand was already performing experiments with electricity. He fitted ice skates with battery-powered lights for example. However, his father tried to forbid his son from busying himself with “such nonsense”. Anton Porsche was the owner of a plumbing workshop and expected Ferdinand to take over the family business after Ferdinand’s older brother Anton got killed in the workshop accident. But Ferdinand had other interests. Despite being fascinated by electricity, he completed both his plumber apprenticeship and the state trade school in Reichenberg.
Ferdinand’s acumen in electricity increased to such a degree that by 1893 his family home became the first in Maffersdorf to have electric light. Following his plumbing apprenticeship in his father’s business, Ferdinand Porsche’s abilities and his interest in technology led him to begin his career at the Vereinigten Elektrizitätswerke of Bela Egger & Co in Vienna. Shortly before the turn of the century he went to work for Jacob Lohner, here behind the steering wheel with Porsche , purveyor to the Austrian royal court. With the development of the wheel-hub engine he astonished the automobile world at the Paris Salon in 1900 by presenting a vehicle that could be propelled by all four wheels: the world’s first all-wheel drive car. In 1906, Ferdinand Porsche, now the married father of one daughter, Louise (* 1904), switched to Austro Daimler in Wiener Neustadt, where, three years later, his son, Ferry (* 1909), was born. Here in his “small” Austro-Daimler equipped with 3.5 HP petrol engine.
He is best known for creating the first hybrid vehicle, gasoline-electric, the Volkswagen Beetle , as well as the first of many Porsche automobiles. Porsche designed the 1923 Benz Tropfenwagen, which was the first race car with mid-engine, rear-wheel drive layout. Known in business circles as the “great engineer”, he made a number of contributions to advanced German tank designs: Tiger I, Tiger II, and the Elefant as well as the super-heavy Panzer VIII Maus tank , which was never put into production. He also made contributions in aircraft design, including the Junkers JU 88, and the Focke Wulf Ta 152, Additionally, he helped develop and manufacture retaliatory weapons, Vergeltungswaffen, such as the V-I flying bombs . In 1937, Porsche was awarded the German National Prize for Art and Science, one of the rarest decorations in Nazi Germany. In Vienna he would sneak into the local university whenever he could after work. Beyond auditing classes there, Porsche had never received any higher engineering education. During his five years with Béla Egger, Porsche first developed the electric hub motor with also ideas of the Austrian Jewish designer Edmund Rumpler.
In June 1934, Porsche received a contract from Hitler to design a “people’s car”, or Volkswagen,
following on from his previous designs such as the 1931 Type 12 car designed for Zündapp. The first two prototype cars were completed in 1935. These were followed by several further pre-production batches during 1936 to 1939. The car was similar to the contemporary designs of Hans Ledwinka of Tatra, which resulted in a lawsuit against Porsche settled by Volkswagen only several years after World War II. A new city, “Stadt des KdF-Wagens”, near Fallersleben was founded for the Volkswagen factory, but wartime production concentrated almost exclusively on the military Kübelwagen and Schwimmwagen variants. Mass production of the car, which later became known as the Beetle, commenced after the end of the war. The city is named Wolfsburg today and is still the headquarters of Volkswagen Group. In a meeting in the Reich Chancellery, Hitler agreed with Porsche that for the glory of Germany, it would be better for two companies to develop the project, resulting in Hitler agreeing to split the money between Mercedes and Auto Union with 250.000 Reichsmark to each company.
In November 1950, Porsche visited the Wolfsburg Volkswagen factory for the first time since the end of World War II.
Austrian native Ferdinand Piëch, here with Ferry and grandfather Ferdiand belongs to the Porsche dynasty. His grandfather was Ferdinand Porsche, the founder of the Porsche dynasty but not the founder of the Porsche brand. That honor is reserved for Ferry Porsche, the son of Ferdinand Porsche and the uncle of Ferdinand Piëch. Piëch’s father Anton was the son-in-law of Ferdinand Porsche, his mother was Louise Porsche, Ferry’s sister. Below we see Ferdinand Porsche with his grandson Ferdinand “Butzi” Porsche – the later designer of the 911 – on the left and the young Ferdinand Piëch on the right. The relationship between Piëch and the Porsche family would never be good. When Porsche attempted to enlist Volkswagen in 2014, obstruct former VW CEO Ferdinand Piëch, and he would only get his weight by later incorporating Porsche into the VW group. Piëch was a tightrope walker like no other, his decisions were often real risks that could have thrown the company.
Death and burial ground of Porsche, Ferdinand.
Porsche spent his visit chatting with Volkswagen president Heinrich Nordhoff about the future of VW Beetle, which were already being produced in large numbers. A few weeks later, Porsche suffered a stroke.
He did not fully recover, and died on 30-01-1951, age 75 in Stuttgart. Porsche is buried in the chapel Schüttgut on the estate of the Porsche family in Zell am See, Austria. His family allowed me kindly to make these photos of the chapel and grave.