Porsche 's mark on automotive history is one that few manufacturers can claim. A symbol of sportiness, robustness, innovation, passion and dreams, Porsche has spanned the decades, creating some of the most desirable automobiles ever conceived.
Today, after some difficult times (notably in 2009, when the company was unable to repay a loan) and some daring strategic reorientations, Porsche is doing better than ever, thanks in particular to the Cayenne and Macan models.
In 2022, the brand delivered more than 310,000 vehicles, an increase of nearly 4% compared to the previous year.
2023 is the occasion to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the firm and the presentation of the first Porsche: the 356.
A perfect opportunity to recall the past, to recall the fundamental values of Porsche... and to look forward to the future of the automobile.
The Porsche 356: the origin of the brand's success
The history of Porsche is written in two stages. It began in the 20th century when Ferdinand Porsche, a young engineer at Lohner, completed the first model of his design, a front-wheel drive electric car that was presented at the Paris World's Fair in 1900.
Later, as technical director at Mercedes, he was responsible for the fabulous compressor models. In 1931, he set up his own business with his son Ferry and designed the fearsome Grand Prix Auto-Union with central engine, but above all the Type 60 KdF-Wagen , which is none other than the famous Volkswagen Beetle.
A model intended for the competition will be extrapolated from it in 1938-39, the Type 60k10 also called Type 64 (of which there remains only one example on the three realized), that one tends to consider as the first Porsche so much the shape of its body announces the future 356 of 1948.
In 1948, the first production car bearing the Porsche name was launched: the 356. And this first car was naturally a sports car, although it was developed from VW mechanical components. The company Porsche, as a car manufacturer, was founded the year before by Ferry Porsche and settled in Gmünd, Austria.
In these difficult post-war times, the Porsche 356, although noticed at the time of its release, started modestly. The car was mainly aimed at a limited number of car enthusiasts and the brand sold only 52 examples in the first two years of marketing.
However, numerous and rapid successes in competition (including a class victory at the 1951 24 Hours of Le Mans) brought the 356 a certain international fame and favored its marketing on the other side of the Atlantic where it would have a brilliant commercial career. The Americans were very fond of small European sports cars and particularly appreciated the 356, notably because of the quality of its manufacture, its handling and the high performance obtained thanks to good aerodynamics and a contained weight.
The Porsche 356 quickly established itself as a benchmark for sports cars. The permanent evolution and the systematic improvement of all that can be will guarantee a level of development and quality rarely reached.
At the same time, more and more powerful and sporty versions are offered, offering race-proven technical solutions.
This is the case of the complex but powerful "4 overhead cam" engine that will be offered on the 356 Carrera. Carrera means nothing other than "race" in Spanish and is a tribute to the 356's participation in the Carrera Panamericana, a famous race on open roads through Mexico that brought together the most prestigious manufacturers of the time.
The engine of the 356 is arranged in cantilever at the rear giving it traction and handling. During the long career of the model, the power of the engines, from 40 hp at the beginning, will reach 130 hp on the Carrera2. The bodywork was modified and improved many times, but without changing the general line, and whatever the year of manufacture, a 356 is immediately recognizable. In 1965, the year of the end of the production, Porsche had assembled nearly 76 000 examples of 356.
Today, the Porsche 356 enjoys an established reputation among car enthusiasts and collectors, so much so that it is regularly ranked in the top 10 best sports cars of the 1960s.
"Driven by Dreams": the 75th anniversary of Porsche
In the year 2023, Porsche celebrates its 75th anniversary. The commemoration of this anniversary is the occasion for several events, including a major temporary exhibition at the DRIVE Volkswagen Group Forum in Berlin and the presentation of the Porsche Vision 357 concept car.
The Porsche Vision 357: back to the roots of the company's DNA
Celebrating an anniversary is an opportunity to create a link between the past and the present, and this is precisely the role of the Porsche Vision 357 concept.
Unveiled on January 25 at the " Driven by Dreams, 75 years of Porsche sports cars " exhibition, the Vision 357 concept pays a heartfelt tribute to the very first Porsche, the unique 356/001 prototype, whose emblematic design codes it takes and adds a stylized vision of the future. The perfect opportunity for Porsche to deliver a modern interpretation of the 356.
Indeed, if we find the smooth silhouette, the rounded forms and the curved wings of the very first Porsche born in Gmünd in 1948, the 20 inches wheels, the cameras as mirrors, the use of NFRP plastics including natural fibers or the carbon wheel flanges, among others, are representative of our time or of a near future.
Developed on the basis of the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS, the Vision 357 uses the naturally aspirated 6-cylinder boxer engine developing 500 horsepower combined with 449 Nm of torque. The engine is located in the middle of the car, as on the first 356/001 roadster prototype, and is capable of speeds up to 9000 rpm. It is also designed to run on synthetic fuels.
In addition to affirming the continuity of the typical Porsche design, the presentation of this new concept car is also a reminder of another aspect of the company's DNA: the sporty character that has always been asserted by its models through mechanicals brimming with character.
It is interesting to note that the Vision 357 does not offer any electric hybridization and remains a purely internal combustion engine machine, suggesting that, for some time to come, electrification will remain the prerogative of Porsche 's family models, while sports car enthusiasts will be offered internal combustion engine models, as long as this is possible.
A year of anniversaries
Sometimes things happen by chance. And for good reason: the year 2023 is not only the 75th anniversary of the brand, but also coincides with the 60th anniversary of the 911, another emblematic model of the firm... as well as with the centenary of the 24 hours of Le Mans.
A great opportunity to remind the world that Porsche is still the most successful brand in this car race.
Everything suggests that Porsche will never cease to surprise us, and that this is a good sign for sports car enthusiasts.
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