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Although the history of the German manufacturer officially begins with the development of the model 356 (1948), the fact is that, years earlier, Ferdinand Porsche had already designed several projects for other brands through his own engineering office. In fact, he owns the Volkswagen Beetle, from which the first Porsche acquired its features. It is in the Austrian town of Gmünd where, in the summer of 1947, Ferry Porsche begins to build the two-seater roadster with rear engine and aluminum chassis based on the Volkswagen project that his father had initiated. In February of the following year, the 356 “No. 1” is ready to roll and competes in Innsbruck – it obtains the best result in its category – as a tune-up for its subsequent production. It is followed by prototype 356/2, also created on the basis of an aluminium chassis designed by Erwin Komenda: in 1950 there are already 52 units manufactured in coupé and cabrio versions. This growth meant that a year earlier production was back in Stuttgart, where Ferdinand had set up his engineering office in the 1930s.

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    Once production moves to Germany, steel begins to be used as raw material for the construction of the 356 chassis. Production is modest (about 100 units per year), although a decade later it increases to 25,000 units. In the mid ’50s, Ferry Porsche considers it necessary to produce a new model that is in line with the airs of modernity that are already beginning to breathe in the brand. The idea is to disassociate itself from Volkswagen’s heritage in terms of engines and components: the only heritage that the replacement for the 356 must retain is the placement of the engine and air cooling. Porsche’s ultimate goal is to create a more exclusive and powerful model. Meanwhile, the successive generations of the 356, A, B and C, increase by the thousands the number of units produced and, with them, the success of a brand that has not yet become a factory of dreams.

    After studying different solutions to design the replacement of the 356, the proposal of Ferry’s eldest son, Ferdinand Alexander, finally prevails. This approach means that the father discards his idea of a four-seater sports car in favour of a more aggressive aesthetics, which is still imperturbable today in the second generation of the 997 series. Thus is born the project known as “901”: a 2+2-seater coupé with a 6-cylinder boxer engine developed by Ferdinand Piëch, the nephew of Ferry Porsche. The first prototype can be seen at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1963, although the presentation of the production model does not take place until October 1964. The reason for changing its name from “901” to “911” is because Peugeot claims its right to the three digits with zero in the middle for its models. The 911 coupé, which shares its beginnings with the latest 356 series, is followed mid-decade by new-type variants such as the Targa, halfway between the coupé and the cabrio.

    Past. And the present and future?

    The arrival of the Cayenne in 2002, Porsche’s first “sports SUV”, brings with it the inauguration of a new plant in Leipzig and, once again, criticism from the defenders of the purity of the German brand. However, the figures reveal the opposite: the all-road, built in cooperation with Volkswagen, becomes a bestseller and raises the brand’s profits like foam. The second generation, presented at the end of 2006, incorporates for the first time the PDCC (Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control) system. Other novelties of the first decade of the 21st century are the Cayman, a model halfway between the Boxster and the 911; the latest Panamera, the first four-door GranTurismo from the German manufacturer; the first diesel model, the Cayenne, the fruit of group synergies; and the Macan, the little brother of the Cayenne. In addition, Porsche already has hybrid variants of the Cayenne and Panamera. Today, Porsche holds more than 50% of the shares in the Volkswagen Group, making it one of the strongest companies in the world. In addition, the company is expected to continue its escalation to reach 75% of the shareholders.

    If you haven’t found your favourite Porsche, you can also search in the Hot Wheels section.

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