Porsche (Dr. Ing. h. c. F. Porsche AG), (pronounced "porsh-uh") is a German manufacturer of sports cars, founded in 1931 by Ferdinand Porsche, the engineer who created the first Volkswagen. The company is located in Zuffenhausen, a city district of Stuttgart.
Porsche has a reputation for producing high-end sports vehicles that, despite their high performance, are reliable and tractable enough to be used for daily driving, and of high manufacturing quality and durability. This reputation is contrasted with that of Ferrari, their main competitor, whose machines are famous for their greater design flair but without the reliability.
As a company, Porsche is known for weathering changing market conditions with great financial stability, while retaining most production in Germany during an age when most other German car manufacturers have moved at least partly to Eastern Europe or overseas. The headquarters and main factory are still at Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen, but for the Cayenne and Carrera GT there is a new plant at Leipzig, in the east of Germany. Some Boxster and Cayman production is outsourced to Valmet Automotive in Finland.
Porsche has for many years offered consultancy services to various other car manufacturers. Studebaker, SEAT, Daewoo and Subaru have consulted Porsche on engineering for their cars. Porsche also helped Harley-Davidson design their new engine in their newer V-Rod motorcycle.
The first Porsche, the Porsche 64 from 1938, used many components from the Volkswagen Beetle. The second Porsche model, the Porsche 356 sports car of 1948, was initially built in Gmünd, Austria, where the company was evacuated to during war times, but after building 49 cars the company relocated back to Zuffenhausen. Many people regard the 356 as the first Porsche simply because it was the first model sold by the fledgling company. Ferdinand Porsche worked with his son Ferry Porsche in designing the 356 but died soon after the first prototype was built. Again, the car used components from the Beetle including its engine, gearbox and suspension. However, the 356 had several evolutions while in production and many VW parts were replaced by Porsche-made parts. The last 356s were powered by 100% Porsche designed engines. The sleek bodywork was designed by Erwin Komenda who had also designed the body of the Beetle.
In 1963, after some success in motor-racing (namely with the Porsche 550 Spyder), the company launched the Porsche 911, another air-cooled, rear-engined sportscar, this time with a 6-cylinder "boxer" engine. The car, which is still in production, has become their most well-known model, successful on the race-track, in rallies, and in terms of sales. Far more than any other model, the Porsche brand is defined by the 911. A cost-reduced model with the same body but 356-derived running gear (including its four-cylinder engine) was sold as the 912.
The company has always had a close relationship with Volkswagen, and as already mentioned, the first Porsche cars used many Volkswagen components. The two companies collaborated in 1969 to make the VW-Porsche 914 and 914-6, in 1976 with the Porsche 924, which used many Audi components and was built at an Audi factory. The Porsche Cayenne, introduced in 2002, shares the entire body with VW Touareg, which are built at the Škoda factory in Bratislava. Both Audi and Škoda are wholly-owned subsidiaries of VW.
Ferdinand Porsche's grandson, Ferdinand Piëch, was chairman and CEO of the Volkswagen Group from 1993 to 2002. With half of all voting shares, he also remains the largest individual shareholder of Porsche AG.
As of 2005, the extended Porsche and Piech families controlled all of Porsche AG's voting shares. In early October 2005 the company announced acquisition of an 18.53% stake in Volkswagen AG and disclosed intentions to acquire additional VW shares in the future.
Porsche has been successful in many branches of motor-racing, scoring a total of more than 23,000 victories. Particular success has been in sportscar racing, notably the 24 hours of Le Mans where they have won 16 times (more than any other company), and in the Paris Dakar Rally. Many Porsche race cars have also been run successfully at Le Mans and in other races by "private" teams, financed and run without any factory support. Recently, 996-generation 911 GT3s have won in their class at Le Mans.
The various version versions of the 911 also proved to be serious competitor in Rally as long as the regulations allowed them to compete. Porsche official team was only present in seldom occasion in Rally, but the best private 911s were often close to other brand works car. Jean-Pierre Nicolas even managed to win the 1978 Monte Carlo Rally with a private 911 SC.
Porsche has also participated in Formula One racing, with mixed results; its first foray (as a constructor) from 1958 to 1964 produced just a single race win, claimed by Dan Gurney at the 1962 French Grand Prix. Porsche returned in 1983 after nearly two decades away, supplying engines badged as TAG units for the McLaren Team. Porsche powered cars took two constructor championships in 1984 and 1985 and three driver crowns in 1984, 1985 and 1986. Porsche returned to F1 again in 1991 as an engine supplier, however this time with disastrous results: Porsche-powered Footwork cars failed to score a single point, and failed to even qualify for over half the races that year; Porsche has not participated in Formula One since.
Major Victories and Championships
- 14 Makes and Team World Championship (1964, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1994)
- 8 Long Distance World Championship
- 3 IMSA Supercar-Series (1991, 1992, 1993)
- 6 German Racing Championship (1977, 1979, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985)
- 20 European Hill Climbing Championship
- 3 Formula 1 Driver World Championship (1984, 1985, 1986)
- 2 Formula 1 Constructor World Championship (1984, 1985)
- 26 Formula 1 victories (1962, 1 win; 1984, 12 wins; 1985, 6 wins; 1986, 4 wins; 1987, 3 wins)
- 20 Daytona 24 Hour (1968, 1970, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1995, 2003)
- 15 IMSA Supercar-Race (USA)
- 16 Le Mans 24 Hour (1970, 1971, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998)
- 17 Sebring 12 Hour (1960, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988)
- 11 Targa Florio (1956, 1959, 1960, 1963, 1964, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1973)
- 4 Rallye Monte Carlo (1968, 1969, 1970, 1978)
- 2 Paris-Dakar Rallye (1984, 1986)
- Porsche Type 110
- Porsche AP Series
- Porsche Junior (14 hp)
- Porsche Standard (25 hp)
- Porsche Super (38 hp)
- Porsche Master (50 hp)
- Porsche 312
- Porsche 356
- Porsche 550 Spyder
- Porsche 911
- Porsche 912 (1.6-liter 911)
- Porsche 914 and 914-6
Porsche 912E (1976 USA model only)
- Porsche 924
- Porsche 931 (924 Turbo)
- Porsche 928
- Porsche 944
- Porsche 951 (944 Turbo)
- Porsche 959
- Porsche 968
- Porsche Boxster (986 and 987)
- Porsche Cayenne
- Porsche Carrera GT
- Porsche Cayman
- Porsche Panamera
- Porsche 64
- Porsche 360 (Cisitalia)
- Porsche 550
- Porsche 718 RSK
- Porsche 718 F2
- Porsche 804 F1
- Porsche W-RS (Spyder)
- Porsche 904
- Porsche 906 (Carrera 6)
- Porsche 907
- Porsche 908
- Porsche 909 (Bergspyder)
- Porsche 910
- Porsche 917
- Porsche 934
- Porsche 935
- Porsche 936
- Porsche 924 (Racing versions)
- Porsche 954
- Porsche 956/962
- Porsche 944 (Racing versions)
- Porsche 959 (Rally)
- Porsche 961
- Porsche Indy March (89P and 90P)
- Porsche 966
- Porsche 911 GT1
- Porsche RS Spyder
- Porsche 911 (Racing versions)
Prototypes and concept cars
- Porsche 114
- Porsche 356/1
- Porsche 695 (911 prototype)
- Porsche 901 (911 prototype)
- Porsche 916 (flat-6 914)
- Porsche 959 Prototype
- Porsche 942
- Porsche 969
- Porsche Panamericana
- Porsche 989
- Porsche Varrera
- Porsche Boxster Concept
- Porsche Carrera GT Concept
- Porsche E2
Pronunciation of "Porsche"
In German "Porsche" is pronounced porsh-uh (IPA 'pɔrʃʌ). In English, the German form is often heard from official Porsche sources and from some Porsche owners and enthusiasts. There is a habit in American English towards over-compensating the e, which then results into pronouncing it as Pors-scha (IPA 'pɔrʃʃɑ). Outside of these groups however, the pronunciation porsh (IPA pɔrʃ) is standard.
- Porsche official web site
- Porsche USA
- Official Cayman Special
- The Porsche category at Open Directory Project
- Technical specifications for most Porsche vehicles
- Information on Porsche production models
- Porsche engine sounds gallery
- Renntech - Porsche Technical Forum
- Flat6 - Porsche models information and forum
- Rennlist - Biggest Porsche forum
- Rennteam - The place for finding out the latest Porsche news
- PCA - Porsche Club of America
- Total 911 - A new Porsche 911 magazine
- Champion Motorsport - Porsche Motorsport site