Ferdinand Porsche was born in 1875 in a town by the name of Mattersdorf, a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the same place called Vratislavice nad Nisou, now a part of the Czech Republic. Born at a time when coaches ruled and cars weren’t yet on the horizon, Porsche started his experimentation with electricity and the way machines worked, much to the chagrin of his father who preferred that he stay by his side and help him run and subsequently inherit his plumbing workshop. As compensation for helping his father by day, Porsche was allowed to attend the Reichenberg Imperial Technical School by night and work on his craft. Such were his skills with electricity, that by 1893, the Porsche house was the first in town to have electric lights.
In 1898, his talent caught the eye of Jakob Lohner who hired him to work at his company in the newly created automaking division. There, he designs the first Lohner – Porsche – most commonly referred to as “P1” – at the young age of 23. The success of this first model skyrockets young Porsche to the very highest echelons of automaking and assures his name in history. Ferdinand Porsche would continue to work at the Lohner company for years, developing many subsequent models that were exhibited at international shows and world fairs, even driving the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in one of his own models as an enlisted soldier at one point.
After his stint with Lohner, Porsche is hired as the chief designer by Austro-Daimler where he creates a 85 horsepower vehicle that collects all the car awards of its time and is today remembered under the nickname of “Prince Henry,” after the Prince Heinrich of Prussia who it was specifically designed and commissioned for by his brother Wilhelm II. Over the years, Ferdinand Porsche would create and design many cars for many different companies. In 1934, Hitler himself enlists Porsche to create the “People’s Car” and Porsche responds by creating the Volkswagen Beetle, perhaps the most beloved automobile ever created, a model that continues to be produced even today.
Dr. Ferdinand Porsche died in 1951 as the most productive and inventive car designer of the previous century, having irrevocably moved the needle of technological advancements far more forward than anyone would have predicted. Today, his legacy is most remembered through the glories and successes of the Porsche company, started by himself in 1931 and run today by his family and estate and one of the leading global car manufacturers of our times.