"Ferry" Porsche

Ferdinand Anton Ernst Porsche (born 19 September 1909 in Wiener Neustadt – 27 March 1998 in Zell am See), mainly known as Ferry Porsche, was an German-Austrian technical automobile designer and automaker-entrepreneur. He operated Porsche AG in Stuttgart, Germany. His father, Ferdinand Porsche senior, was also a renowned automobile engineer, and his nephew, Dr. Ferdinand Piech, was chairman of Volkswagen from 1993 to 2002.

The life of Ferry Porsche was intimately related to his father, Ferdinand Porsche senior, who taught his son all of his technical knowledge since his childhood. Father and son opened a bureau of automobile design, at Stuttgart in 1931.

Almost immediately, they worked together to fill their country's National Socialist regime's needs and they met Adolf Hitler at many business events. The Volkswagen Beetle was designed by Ferdinand Porsche senior and a team of engineers (that included Ferry Porsche).

After World War II, while the senior Porsche remained imprisoned in France being accused as a criminal of war, Ferry Porsche maintained the company and its business deals. Aided by the postwar Volkswagen enterprise, he created the first real Porsches. Despite the political-economical adversities of the postwar years and the designing labors, the company manufactured automobiles and, eventually, became a world powerhouse for producing sport cars.

Early life

Ferdinand Porsche senior was chief designer at Austro-Daimler in Austria. His designs were focused on compact street cars, and racecars. Austro Daimler was so strongly tied to the local royalty that the Austrian insignia became the trademark of the company.

Ferdinand Porsche junior was born on September 16, 1909, in Wiener Neustadt, Austria. On that day, his father was competing with one of his designed racecars (called the Maja) at Semmering and he finished first in his category. He knew of his son's birth by means of a telegram from home.[1]

Ferry Porsche's mother was Aloisia Johanna Kaes. He already had a sister, Louise, who had been born over five years earlier. He was baptized as Ferdinand Anton Ernst Porsche. The name Ferdinand was due to senior Ferdinand Porsche, Anton was due to his grandfather and Ernst was due to his uncle by Kaes' family. Early in childhood he picked up the nickname "Ferry" rather than the usual nickname "Ferdy", as this reminded his parents too much of a typical coachman nickname (a profession which coincidentally was made obsolete also by Porsche's work).

Along following years, the family lived itinerantly through many homes. Nevertheless, he and his father spent long time at workshops where he began to learn early about mechanical engineering. Also, they used to tour around Europe and the United States of America where the designed racecars were competing.

Ferry remarked later that in fact, "One could say that I was already born with the automobile." For example, on the Christmas Eve of 1920, Ferry Porsche was originally misled by his parents who had first presented as present to him a miniature coach which was pulled by a goat. Though, in fact, he received a true petrol car in miniature (with a four-stroke engine) of two cylinders which was specifically designed by his father. Ferry Porsche learned to drive when he was only 10 years old. At 12, he drove a true racecar, the Austro-Daimler Sascha which had just won its class at Targa Florio, Sicily, in 1922.

Ferry Porsche attended school successively at Wiener Neustadt and Stuttgart, highlighting particularly on mathematics.

Moving to Stuttgart

On 1923, the family moved to Stuttgart, due to senior Ferdinand Porsche's unrest about the squandering financial destiny of Austro-Daimler. He joined the Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft at Stuttgart-Untertürkheim (where the design department from the whole company was concentrated). Soon, he got the position of technical director.

Meanwhile, Ferry Porsche received consent from the company to stay at the plant together with his father because his rising interest on designing issues. The local town authorities endorsed a special permission to him, for driving even with 16 years of age.

Ferdinand Porsche senior enjoyed success particularly with his racecars which excelled at the racing tracks. His personal preference for designing compact cars differed with the current policies of (now merged) Daimler-Benz, who were in favor of more luxurious Mercedes-Benz models.

So, in 1929, Daimler-Benz began to question the Porsche's works seriously and halted it suddenly. He worked temporally as technical director of Steyr AG, in Austria. Nonetheless, he decided to open a consulting bureau soon of automobile design, again at Stuttgart.

At the same time, after finishing school, Ferry Porsche was residing at Stuttgart, assisting Bosch Company in 1928; this was for deepening interest in automobile engineering. In 1930, he was taking additional lessons of physics and engineering. However, he never joined to any university formally .

Father's firm at Stuttgart

Already in the 1930s, Stuttgart was a traditional place for automobile industry. Down the region, the most important companies of Germany were abiding. When the Porsche opened his designing offices on April 1931, his son was at his side. The firm was the called "Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche GmbH Konstructionsbüro für Motoren, Fahrzeuge, Luftfahrzeuge und Wasserfahrzeugbau", meaning that Ferdinand Porsche's firm was for construction and consultation for engines, automobiles, airplanes and motorboats. Father and son were also accompanied by renowned engineers who were already known to Porsche.

The German economic crisis was currently at its worst point. The country was about ot be politically dominated by the National Socialists, who were about to take the government belligerently. Lacking also of personnel, Porsche's perspectives weren't good initially.

Nevertheless, the company got contracts soon with important German enterprises, like Wanderer, Auto Union, Zwickau, Zündapp and, from 1933, the new German National Socialist regime. Some of these jobs made historical influences, like the mid-engined Auto Union Silver Arrow race cars, designed by Porsche.

Porsche developed a particularly "amicable" relationship with Adolf Hitler since they began receiving many military projects. In fact, historical evidence points out that Porsche's firm was probably the tyrant's favorite. Even though the dictator's "friendly" relationship with the Porsches seemed mutual to Hitler himself and others, in reality it was one-sided. The Porsche family was, in fact, somewhat pacifist. The family didn't agree with Nazi ideals (in fact Porsche senior once assisted a Jewish employee escape Germany).[2] By those years, a newspaper expressed that "in the automobile world, the name Porsche deserves a monument." [3]

On the part of Ferry Porsche, he held several departments which were successive. They were: "controlling of testing", "coordinating of the design engineers", and "keeping good relations with clients". Meanwhile in 1935, he married Dorothea Reitz. They had originally met at the corridors of Daimler-Benz, years before. Later on, they had four children: Ferdinand Alexander, Gerhard, Hans-Peter, and Wolfgang.

Later in 1938, when his father moved to the new Volkswagen plant at Wolfsburg, Ferry Porsche became the deputy manager of Stuttgart's bureau and the design departments were relocated to Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen.


Ferdinand Porsche's old yearning had been to create a small compact car which may be conceived as such "from zero" (not being a reduced version of a sedan). Finally, the designing works began at their familiar residence in Stuttgart, at the Feuerbacher Weg street. Therefore, Ferry Porsche had complete access to help his father, intervening on important parts of the project. The work had originally been supported by Zündapp, until backing away soon after due to commercial reasons.

Nonetheless, the Nazis accepted the project on 22 June 1934, interested on producing "an affordable car for the German family". Originally, it was called Porsche (Model) 60 but it was soon officially renamed as the Kdf-Wagen or Volkswagen (people's car).

In their familiar garage at Stuttgart, three prototypes were built. In 1934, Ferdinand Porsche founded Volkswagen AG. His son was there, doing the road-tests.

In 1939, when the Volkswagen factory opened in Wolfsburg, Porsche senior became its general manager (along with an officer from the Nazi party).

Auto Union and Wanderer

Adolph Hitler had also decided to promote the German racecars at the competitions of Grand Prix Motor Racing. Therefore, the government had called for a concourse for the state-of-the-art racers of the time. Daimler-Benz easily won a bid. When Wanderer applied, it was rejected. Wanderer resorted to Porsche firm.

In 1932, Ferdinand Porsche met with Adolf Hitler personally and their bid was finally accepted. Ferry Porsche took part too in the conception and construction of those racecars, being responsible also of the general organization of the workshop and the testing of the units. In 1933, their first racecar was developed, with a V-16 engine of 4.5 litres and aluminium framework.

In 1934, Wanderer and others merged to Auto Union, and the senior Porsche became the chief designer of their racecars. Both racing teams, Daimler-Benz and Auto Union, were also used for political propaganda by the National Socialists. They overwhelmingly dominated all the competitions of the 1930s. In 1938, Ferdinand Porsche senior left the Auto Union racing team as his contract expired.

Second World War

During the war, the Porsche family was completely dedicated to design motorized weaponry, like tanks, for the Germans. To avoiding the aerial bombings of Stuttgart, Ferry Porsche was forced to bring some of the designing departments to Austria, to two locations, Gmünd/Carinthia and Zell am See, where the family had a farm. Nonetheless, he stayed personally in Stuttgart, administering the business.

Meanwhile, Porsche senior withstood at Wolfsburg, working for the Germans until the end of the war. The production of compact civilian cars at that factory had been halted, to produce small military jeeps called Kübelwagen.

Though, after Hitler's fall, the French government requested formally to Porsche family to build a French version of the compact Volkswagen, on November 1945, even by bringing the pieces of Wolfsburg's facilities which had survived.

Some French nationalist sectors, lead by Jean Pierre Peugeot, resisted this though. Surprisingly then, during an official appointment at Wolfsburg, both Porsche's father and son as well as Anton Piëch, a Viennese attorney who was Louise Porsche's husband, were arrested altogether as criminals of war, on December 15. Without any trial, a bail of 500,000 francs was officially asked for each of the Porsche's. It could be afforded only for Ferry Porsche who moved then to Austria, on July 1946. His father was taken instead to a harsh medieval prison at Dijon.

Porsche company at Gmund

After released, Ferry Porsche attempted to return to Stuttgart but he was barred by the forces of occupation. In consequence, on July 1946, he brought all the structure of the company to Gmünd/Carinthia, Austria.

Together with his sister Louise, they took the management of the company. On the beginning, they used the workshop also to repair cars. Additionally, they commercialized water pumps and lathes.

In time, they obtained two contracts which were about automobile design. One was the construction of racecars for the Cisitalia racing team. The other one was the design of their own car, later known as Porsche 356. Later at one point, the enterprise could stand definitively.

Porsche Type 360 - Cisitalia

As a result of Carlo Abarth's mediation, Ferry Porsche inked a contract with Piero Dusio to produce Grand Prix racing cars again. The new model was called Porsche 360 Cisitalia, and it was the first to spell out the name of the family's enterprise. Its design was mostly alike to the preceding pre-war ones, despite being smaller. It had a supercharged engine of 1.5-litres and 4WD.

Porsche Type 356

Following his father's old aspiration, Ferdinand Porsche's projected the design for the Porsche 356, basing on the compact Volkswagen. The 356 had a rear engine of 35 hp and 4-cylinders which was air-cooled. Due to the location of its engine, the car was a little unstable at driving but --pleasingly-- the balance favored potency overally over the vehicle's weight.

An automobile dealer from Zurich ordered the first shipment on the winter of 1947 and the production of the automobile began. Under Ferry Porsche's supervision, the units were built completely by hand, at an improvised workshop, inside a sawmill at Gmund.

On June 1948, 50 units had been completely assembled, with their corresponding aluminium body. Additionally, half dozen of frameworks were sent to the Beutler Company at Thun, Switzerland, where they were fitted into cabriolet bodies.

Despite its compact kind, the car was eventually reserved for wealthy customers. Successfully, the 356 would mean Porsche's final hop out from performing only designing chores for others. Indeed surprisingly, the 356 had almost sold 78,000 units by 1965. Additionally, it indicated the outline which was followed by the entirety of the successive series of Porsche's sport cars.

Ferdinand Porsche' s fate

During his 20 months of captivity at the medieval jail of Dijon, Porsche was forced to collaborate on designs for Renault and their later popular 4 CV. The precarious conditions of the location harmed his health seriously.

On 1947, junior Ferdinand Porsche gathered the amount of the stipulated bail, immediately after receiving the early fees for his new designs. His father was then liberated on August 1, 1947, together with Anton Piëch.

Once at Austria, senior F. Porsche reviewed the designs of his son for both projects --the Cisitalia and the 356--. He consented with the plans and aided even at the projects which were in progress. He commented daily to their employees that "he would have done the same designs than Ferry."

Ferdinand Porsche's father was rather sick. Noting this, sentimentally, he took him to revisit Wolfsburg's plant which was flourishing with the massive production of the Volkswagen's Beetle --which was carried out under supervision of the British occupation--. On November 1950, senior F. Porsche suffered a stroke which disabled him until his definitive death, on January 30, 1951, with 75 years.

The return to Stuttgart

On the spring of 1949, the general manager of Volkswagen, Heinz Nordhoff, approached to junior Ferdinand Porsche and unpacked a massive contract. In behalf of Porsche 's designing services --for example, improving the Beetle--, it specified that Volkswagen would start providing in exchange:

  • a share of the profits from each sold Beetle
  • the raw materials for building the sport Porsche 's vehicles
  • the usage of Volkswagen 's world structure of retailers
  • the usage of Volkswagen 's world structure for technical service

Also by this agreement, junior Ferdinand Porsche would become the only dealer of Volkswagen for all Austria.

In view of this new stabilized situation, junior Ferdinand Porsche decided to reestablish the headquarters of the Porsche at Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen. Though, the old original Porsche 's facilities were occupied by American forces. Nonetheless, he rented some workshops then from the company Reutter --which was a constructor of bodies for automobiles--. He brought most of his employees and opened on September 1949. Their first work was the development of an engine which was called Carrera.

On 1950, the production of the Porsche 356 was resumed. Eventually, it was so successful that, despite being originally planned an annual production of 500, they had already produced 78,000 units by 1967. Ferdinand Porsche's motto was to produce automobiles which had to be reliable and of high-quality sports cars, of a high utilitarian value.

Porsche 's most recognized involvement on car races began at 24 Hours of Le Mans, on June 1951, when an improved version of the 356 debuted on this track and won on its category. On successive years, Porsche 's winning contribution to Le Mans is regarded as fundamental for the own existence of the circuit. Later, on 1959, Porsche won for first time an event of the World Sportscar Championship, at Targa Florio, while a Porsche 917 would achieve the first Le Mans win finally in 1970.

Porsche - Type 911 (1963)

At the demand of Porsche's fans, the company began planning a successor to the 356. The project was originally called Porsche 901. Ferdinand Alexander Porsche --who was also nicknamed "Butzi"-- and Ferdinand Porsche's nephew took charge on designing the new model.

The first units were manufactured on 1962. However, Peugeot pushed legally for a change of the name, due to its registered copyright which barred the usage of automobile names with a zero amid two numbers. The model was renamed to Porsche 911. Eventually, it became the sports car which has been produced for the longest period of time, over 35 years. It sold about 600,000 units.

Porsche plc

Since his father's death on 1951, Ferry Porsche was the maximum responsible of the company, as general manager --the chairman of the board of management--. On 1972, he decided to transform the Porsche Company --which was a limited partnership-- into public, also by merging all the three enterprises which constituted it:

  • Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche KG, from Stuttgart
  • VW-Porsche Vertriebsgesellschaft, from Ludwigsburg
  • Porsche Konstruktion KG, from Salzburg

Additionally, Ferdinand Porsche stepped down from the chairmanship and assumed as honorary chairman of the supervisory board. In fact, he continued controlling the company like so. He remained in that position until his death on 1998. [4] Ferdinand Alexander Porsche took his place as general manager.

The enterprise became a public limited company --plc--, the Porsche GmbH . Nonetheless, the two deep-seated families --Porsche and Piëch-- assured the possession yet of most of the shares. This status has also been kept along the years, until recently.


On 1989, Ferdinand Porsche retired definitively from the activity, returning to his cherished Austrian farm at Zell-am-Zee.

Later, one of his last visited events was the launching of a new model, the Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet. It was based on the old 356, with a water-cooled engine of 6-cylinders and 300 hp.

He also assisted in the large celebration of the 30 years of the Porsche 911 which took place at Stuttgart and Ludwigsburg. Despite being in an unhealthy condition, he signed autographs and drove through a street of 500 911s. He supported himself with a cane and was wearing a straw hat.

Ferdinand Porsche died 74 days short of the 50th anniversary of the company, at the age of 88, on March 27, 1998, at the farm in Zell am See, Austria. He was buried there too at the Schüttgut church, beside his parents, his wife Dorothea and Anton Piëch. Porsche AG conducted a memorial service soon after in Stuttgart.

Ferdinand Porsche's recognitions

  • 1959. Grand Cross for Distinguished Service, from the Federal Republic of Germany. It was presented by President Theodore Huess.
  • 1965. Honorary doctorate, from the Vienna Technical College.
  • 1965. Honorary doctorate, from the University of Stuttgart.
  • 1984. Honorary professor, from the federal state of Baden-Wuerttemburg.
  • 1975. Grand Golden Decoration, from Austria. It was presented at Vienna.
  • 1978. Wilhelm Exner's Medal.
  • 1979. Grand Cross for Distinguished Service, from the Federal Republic of Germany. It's the highest award for service. It was presented at his 70th birthday, by the chief minister of Baden Wurttemberg, Lothar Spath.
  • 1981. Gold Medal, from the Societe des Ingenieurs de L'Automobile.
  • 1981. Honorary citizenship --dubbed Freedom of the City--, from the town of Zell-am-See, at Austria.
  • 1984. Professor. It was presented by the chief minister Lothar Spath.
  • 1985. Honorary senator, from the University of Stuttgart.
  • 1989. Economic Medal for outstanding service to the economy of Baden Wurttemberg. It was presented by the minister of economy of Baden-Wurttemberg, Martin Herzog.
  • 1989. Citizen's medal, from the city of Stuttgart.
  • 1994. Honorary citizenship, from Wiener Neustadt.



See Also

Porsche 550 3.jpg

Volkswagen Group

Volkswagen | Audi | SEAT | Škoda | Bentley | Bugatti | Lamborghini | Ducati | Porsche


911 · Boxster · Cayenne · Cayman · Panamera Gran Turismo · Macan


Prewar: 64 · 114 · Type 128 · Type 166 · Lohner-Porsche Mixte Hybrid

1940s-1950s: 356/1 · 356 · 360 · 550 Spyder · 718 RS / F2 / F1 · Type 597

1960s-1970s: 356 · 695 · 804 F1 · 904 · 906 · 907 · 908 · 909 · 910 · 911 · 912 · 914 · 918 · 924 · 928 · 930 · 934 · 935 · 936 · FLA

1980s-1990s: 911 · 942 · 944 · 953 · 956 · 959 · 89 P · 961 · 964 · 968 · WSC-95 Spyder · 987 · 989 · 911 GT1

2000s-2010s Carrera GT · GT3 Cup S . 918 Spyder . 911

911 Generations:

901 · 964 · 993 · 996 · 997 · 998 · 991

911 Variants:

Turbo · Targa · GT2 · GT2 RS · GT3 · GT3 RS · GT3 R · Speedster . R


928GTE · 928 Study H50


RS Spyder · Cayenne S Transsyberia · 917 · 962 · 911 GT3 RSR · 911 GT3 R Hybrid · 356 B Carrera GTL Abarth · 911 GT3 Cup

Concept Cars:

114 · 356/1 · 695 · 901 · 916 · 918 · FLA · 959 Prototype · 942 · 969 · Panamericana · 989 · Varrera · Boxster Concept · Carrera GT Concept · E2 · 918 Spyder Concept · Tapiro Concept · 918 RSR Concept

Ferdinand Porsche · Ferry Porsche · Butzi Porsche · Erwin Komenda · Ferdinand Piech · Porsche Design Group · PASM · Porsche Museum · Porsche Supercup · TechArt · RUF Automobile

Ferdinand Porsche Corporate website A subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group

External links