Porsche at 70

Its best road and race cars named

Autocar - - THIS WEEK -

The first Porsche was built in 1948 in a col­lec­tion of sheds on the site of a for­mer sawmill in a place called Gmund, in Aus­tria. Its de­signer had re­cently been re­leased from prison where he had been in­terned by the Al­lies. The car had more than a pass­ing re­sem­blance to the Volk­swa­gen Bee­tle – and with good rea­son, for the same man had de­signed both. He was called Fer­di­nand Porsche. All its mov­ing parts – en­gine, brakes, sus­pen­sion and steer­ing – were ei­ther lifted di­rectly or de­rived from Bee­tle run­ning gear and de­spite the en­gine be­ing given a fairly mon­u­men­tal tun­ing up­grade, the 1.1-litre flat four still only gen­er­ated, wait for it, 40bhp.

It is fair to say Porsche has come some dis­tance in the past 70 years. Dur­ing that time the car maker has be­come the most prof­itable on earth, and its sphere of op­er­a­tion is now so wide that it makes ev­ery­thing from hy­per­cars to SUVS. It has won in For­mula 1 and amassed an un­ri­valled 19 vic­to­ries at Le Mans. To­day those SUVS are the most cov­eted cars of their kind, yet Porsche has not for­got­ten its roots: it still makes a flat four open two-seater with its en­gine lo­cated be­hind the driver, just like that first 356 all those years ago. So to cel­e­brate we thought we’d look at some of the very great­est (and just a few of the not so great) cars that brought Porsche from some huts in Aus­tria to be­com­ing the most suc­cess­ful man­u­fac­turer of sport­ing cars the world has yet known.

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