Biography of Ferdinand Porsche
Ferdinand Porsche is a German automotive engineer born in 1875 in Maffersdorf Austria. He had an honorary degree in engineering. He was an engineer operating in two countries, Austria and Germany. His early love towards cars and electricity landed him his first job in Vienna in 1893 when he was only 18. He enrolled for part-time studies around the same time at the Imperia Technical University in Reichenberg (current Vienna University of Technology).
He is popularly known a remembered for his design of Beetle vehicle, first hybrid vehicle while which could use both gasoline and electricity. He also went ahead and designed the Mercedes Benz. He later designed many versions of Porsche vehicles. At a younger age, Porsche showed an affinity for technology and derived great intrigues from electricity. At a tender age of 18, he landed a job at Bela Egger and Company which dealt with electricity and electrical applications then. The company was later to be renamed as Brown Boveri. He rose to become a successful vehicle engineer.
He was referred to as “ great engineer” while in his engineering works. He was the engineer behind many designs of tanks that were common in Germany. The most common tanks that he helped designed include Tiger I and Tiger II. He was recognized, albeit posthumously as the engineer of the century in 1999 in the International Motorsport Hall of Fame. Although these tanks were popular, they were not put into production. He also made a lot of contributions to aircraft designs where there were many aircraft designs that he helped create.
Ferdinand Porsche was born in Austria to German-speaking parents and was living in Maffersdorf in Northern Bohemia, in the empire of Austro-Hungary. This is today known as Czech Republic. His affinity for mechanical work were noticed when he was still at a very early life. He was able to attend his classes in Imperial Technical School which was located in Reichenberg. He attended classes during night hours because he was helping his father with his mechanical transactions in the father’s shop. He later joined Bela electrical company where he worked as an electrician in the company. He attended classes at a local university at night whenever he would find time. It was while he was at Bela that Porsche developed an electric hub motor. This work was the first to show the talent that the young engineer had. After working for Bella Egger & Co for a short period, his supervisors were greatly impressed by his skills in technology and were later promoted to a management position. In 1897, he built an electric wheel hub motor following the concept of American inventor Wellington Adams. He successfully builds and tested the wheel-hub in Vienna and started working in the newly created Electric Car department at the Hofwagenfabrik Jacob Lohner & Co. The company belonged to an Austro-Hungarian Army’s joint Imperial and Royal Army.
It was until 1900 that his engineering capabilities came into the limelight when at the Paris World Fair that his wheel-hub engine was used to power the newly developed Hofwagenfabrik Jacob Lohner & Co non-transmission vehicle. He later tested his engines in the Semmering racing circuit near Vienna and experienced a drive of his own engineering design while in service at the K. U. K and as a driver at the Archduke Franz Ferdinand Co in 1902. His engineering skills and service for Lohner continued until 1906 when he became a technical manager for the Austro-Daimler company. In 1923, he moved to Stuttgart to oversee the construction of the Mercedes compressor car while working for the Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft company. Porsche was honored with a doctorate degree by the Imperial Technical University in 1917 as well as the German National Prize for Art and Science.
The career life of Porsche started when he joined Jakob Lohner & Co. which was tasked with producing coaches which were used by Austria, Emperor Franz Josep I and also for the kings of countries like Sweden and England. His designs were admired all over the world. Jakob Lohner had started the business of creating automobiles in the year of 1896. While in Jakob Lohner, Porsche helped to design the first design that was called System Lohner Porsche. This was a car which had the design of a carrier and had two motors powering it. It was fitted directly in the front of the front wheels and the power came from two batteries. This construction later was converted to 4-wheel drive. This was achieved by putting two additional electric motors to the rear wheels. This development and handwork was ordered by Englishman, Hartman in the year 1900. It was during this year that the car was presented to the exhibition of Paris World Exhibition with the name Toujours Contente. This powerful car had some noticeable limitations which included the requirements of the batteries that were needed to power it. It requires lead batteries which weighed 1, 800 kg; this made it hard to maintain and sustain. The car showed admirable speed when it was given the chance to sprint and this was one of the most powerful features of this invention. This feature was limited by the short life of the lead batteries and, therefore, meant that it could not climb mountains. Faced with this challenge, Porsche made an invention that overcame the challenge of batteries that were used by the vehicles. He came up with a concept that would allow fuel to be burned internally. This invention was named Mixte which was fixed to a generator that would undertake combustion internally. Still at this time, there were insufficient gears and coupling. Because of this, he came into the conclusion to make the vehicle a series hybrid. This is an arrangement that is commonly seen with many diesel-electric or turbo-electric train locomotives than it is with automobiles.
Although many sales were made of the Lohner-Porsche chassis were sold up to the year of 1906, the design of most of these chassis was two-wheel drives. They were either front wheel drives or rear wheel drives. These chassis were made into buses, trucks or fire-engines. There were over 300 chassis sold up to 1906. After this, there were no other four-wheel drives cars were sold and manufactured after this period. Although this is the case, some buses were fitted with these chassis.
The speed of the cars that Porsche developed broke most records regarding speed. The carriages were able to go up to speeds of 56km/h which exceeded Austrian speed records. They were able to battle it out in Excelberg rally in the year 1901. They won this rally. During this rally race, Porsche was himself position in a front wheel drive where he was the one piloting. After some time, there were further upgrades where they were integrated with more powerful engines which were obtained from Daimler and Panhard. These engines helped the cars to post more speed strengths. It was not until 1905 that Porsche was recognized with Poetting prize when he was recognized as the best engineer in the automotive industry. He was the most successful and innovative automotive engineer in Austria during this period. He joined the military in the year 1902 where he worked as a chauffeur serving Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. The assassination of Archduke led to World War I.
In the year 1906, Austro-Daimler took Porsche to work as the first chief designer. The best designed car that was designed by Porsche that was to be used by Prince Henry Trial in the year 1910. The car was named after the younger brother of Wilhell, Prince Heinrich who was from Prussia. The car was streamlined and had 85 horsepower (63kW). It got used to be called its nickname of Prince Henry instead of being referred to as by its model name Model 27/80.
Henry managed to move within ranks very fast and by the year 1916, he had managed to be the managing director. It was during this period that he received an honorary degree. He was now referred to as Dr. techn., h. c. He got this honorary degree was got from the Vienna University of technology. His life was marked with many strives to design cars and he continued with this quest to design many cars. His designs of cars were mainly for the purposes of racing and in total, he managed to win 43 races out of 53. These designs were for the year 1922. It was not until 1923 that Porsche left the Austro-Daimler because there were problems and arguments regarding the direction that the development of the cars would take after some time. The argument that ensued after this period made Porsche to leave the company. After some few months as unemployed, he landed a job as a director of technical services at Daimler Motoren Gesellchaft’s company which was located in Stuttgart in Germany. This company was already positioned and was the major hub for automotive industry in Germany. It was in this position that he received another degree, an honorary degree because of his contributions and ideas that he got while working here. The degree was from Stuttgart Technical University. He later got a honorary professor at the same university. While working at Daimler Motoren Gesellchaft, he managed to come up with many racing car designs. All these designs were successful. The many car designs which were adorned with superchargers later developed to form Mercedes Benz SSK. These were the class of vehicles that were common in the period of the 1920s. In the year 1926, Daimler Motoren Gesellchaft and Benz & Cie came together in a joint merger to form Daimler-Benz and together produced a racing car called Mercedes-Benz. Porsche had an idea of a small and light Mercedes-Benz car that was not popular with a majority of the board of the company.
Porsche founded his own consulting firm in the year 1931. He named this firm as Dr. Req. h. c F. Porsche GmbH. This firm was founded in Stutgart where he had returned. With financial support from an Austrian advocate, he managed to employ many colleagues he was able to work with while in his former places of work. He achieved this with much ease. With this consulting firm, he was able to come up with other designs. The first design was that of Wanderer.
This invention was the first of its own as Porsche had managed to produce the first petroleum electric hybrid vehicle using his own effort. He collaborated with Volkswagen to develop the first vehicle designs. It was in 1931 that his ambition to own a company came into fruition. According to Commercial Register documents, he named it ‘’Dr. Ing. h. c. F. Porsche GmbH, Konstruktionen und Beratung für Motoren und Fahrzeuge,”. Later in 1934 he worked on the “ people’s car project’’ initiated by Adolf Hitler and developed the first design of the Volkswagen car in collaboration with his son Ferdinand Anton Ernst Porsche. Together with his son, he designed military vehicles that were used in the First World War such as the German Tiger Tank which was regarded as the most powerful tank of that time.
Later he served jail 22 month term in the hands of the French but later incarcerated. During this time, his son Anton was overseeing the development of a new racing car known as the Cisitalia created by the Porsche Company. It was until 1950 that the Porsche sports car was introduced. Until his death in 1951, Porsche had attained a lot and a Porsche Museum was built in Stuttgart in 2009 to honor his achievements.
Meredith, L. (2010). Ferdinand Porsche and the Legacy of Genius. Bank House Books.
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