Birthday: September 3, 1875
Nationality: Austrian, German, Hungarian
Died At Age: 75
Sun Sign: Virgo
Also Known As: Ferdinand Anton Ernst Porsche
Born Country: Czech Republic
Born in: Vratislavice nad Nisou, Liberec, Czechia
Famous as: Founder of Porsche Automobile Company
Spouse/Ex-: Aloisia Johanna Kaes (m. 1903)
father: Anton Porsche
mother: Anna (Ehrlich)
children: Ferdinand Anton Ernst Porsche, Louise Piëch
Died on: January 30, 1951
place of death: Stuttgart
Cause of Death: Stroke
education: Vienna University of Technology
awards: German National Prize for Art and Science
War Merit Cross
Wilhelm Exner Medal
Who was Ferdinand Porsche?
Ferdinand Porsche was an automotive engineer from Austria-Hungary who founded the famous Porsche automobile company. He created the first-ever gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle. His creations include Lohner-Porsche, Volkswagen Beetle, Mercedes-Benz SS/SSK, and other popular models of Porsche automobiles. Ferdinand played a pivotal role during World War II. His involvement with Porsche automobiles paved the way for the production of advanced tanks like VK 4501 (P), Tiger I, Tiger II, Elefant, and Panzer VIII Maus. According to Nazi officials, he was called the "Great German Engineer" and was also a member of the Nazi Party. He received the German National Prize for Art and Science, the SS-Ehrenring and the War Merit Cross. Following WW II, Ferdinand was imprisoned at a French prison for 22 months, and his business was taken care of by his son. Ferdinand died at the age of 75 and his legacy of creating the Porsche brand has been carried forward by his descendants. He was inducted posthumously into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and was given the Car Engineer of the Century award among other accolades.
Childhood & Early Life
Ferdinand Porsche was born on 3 September 1875, in Maffersdorf, Bohemia, Austria-Hungary, now in the Czech Republic. He was the third child of Anton Porsche and Anna.
His father owned a plumbing workshop and was a master panel-beater as well. However, Ferdinand wasn't keen on taking over the family business. At the age of 13, he installed electric doorbells at his parents' house and added electric lighting when he was just 16. His home was the first in Maffersdorf to have electricity.
He completed his plumber apprenticeship despite his growing interest in electricity. He attended the Imperial Technical School in Reichenberg (Czech: Liberec). He also went to the Vienna Technical University later on.
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Ferdinand Porsche was employed by Lohner in 1898. By the age of 23, he had already designed the Lohner-Porsche. In 1900, it was exhibited at L'Exposition Universelle De Paris, the most prestigious car exhibition at that time.
He designed a new prototype, a four-wheel car that had an electric motor in each wheel. In 1901, with Ferdinand Porsche as the pilot, it won its class at the hill climb in Exelber, Austria.
Founding of Porsche
After spending eight years at Lohner, Ferdinand became the technical director at Austro-Daimler in Wiener Neustadt in 1906. He was only 31 when he took over the responsibilities for the model range of one of Europe’s largest automotive companies.
In 1910, Ferdinand won the “Prinz-Heinrich-Fahrt” for driving an Austro-Daimler car that he had designed himself.
Around 1912-13, Ferdinand engineered the "Austro-Hungarian Electric Train" which was inspired by Austrian Colonel-General Ottokar Landwehr von Pragenau.
He was promoted as the general manager of Austro-Daimler in 1917. Ferdinand was part of many companies in the following 25 years, including Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft in Stuttgart which he joined as a technical director and board member.
In 1930, he opened his own engineering office in Stuttgart. At the age of 55, on April 25, 1931, Ferdinand registered his own company and this led to the beginning of Porsche taking over the automobile world.
He was ordered to design the first "Peoples' car" by Hitler in 1934. This paved the way for Volkswagen Beetle and other military vehicles used by the Nazis during WWII.
Family & Personal Life
Ferdinand Porsche married Aloisia Johanna Kaes in 1903. In 1904, his daughter, Louise Hedwig Anna Porsche, was born. His son, Ferry Porsche, was born in 1909.
Interestingly, on the same day his son was born, he was busy racing in an Austro-Daimler Maja that he had engineered himself. He received the news through a telegram.
Death & Legacy
In late 1950, Ferdinand suffered a severe stroke that he never recovered from. On 30 January 1951, he passed away in Stuttgart. He was 75. He is laid to rest in the family estate located in Zell am See, Austria.
In 1950, just a year before his death, he had introduced the Porsche sports car.
For his work on the Landwehr train, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Vienna University of Technology in 1916.
To honor his contribution to the world of automotive engineering, the Porsche Museum was opened in Zuffenhausen, a suburb of Stuttgart, in 2009.
The legendary Porsche brand has been taken to greater heights by his son and grandchildren.