Ferry Porsche – the entrepreneur
With a special blend of courage, foresight and social responsibility, Ferry Porsche took the company to the top of the world of sports car construction.
From the 356 to the 911, Ferry Porsche succeeded in implementing his dream of ‘driving in its most beautiful form’. His sound intuition proved a major influence on the company and saw it develop into a leading sports car manufacturer. Ferry Porsche had an innate ability to see which way the wind was blowing. When the future prospects of the 356 began to appear limited in the late 1950s, for example, he opted to introduce an entirely new design: the 911. This was a big risk in business terms, as Porsche took over the firm Karosseriewerk Reutter & Co. GmbH in 1964 and incorporated its workforce of nearly 1,000 staff. One of Ferry’s greatest achievements was the courageous and visionary manner in which he tapped into the future potential of the 911 concept. He also maintained a constant focus on transferring innovative motor sport developments to series production, ensuring that even unusual ideas and concepts were given a fair hearing. The ‘VW-Porsche’ 914 and the transaxle 924, 928, 944 and 968 models featuring front engines were testament to this approach.
Yet Ferry’s positive impact on the company was not limited to financial matters – he also had a profound effect on a social level. For Porsche, the notion of being a businessman and staying human was not a contradiction in terms but a logical combination that could even be seen as the basis of the company’s entire success. As early as the 1950s, a grand Christmas party was held every year in the canteen of Plant 2 for the employees’ children. Ferry’s wife Dorothea was on hand to give out the presents. He also launched the company pension plan in 1956 and established a Porsche foundation to help employees who found themselves in financial difficulty through no fault of their own. The company even introduced Christmas and holiday bonuses far earlier than many others in the sector.
From 1972 onwards, Ferry supported the company through its ups and downs as chairman of the supervisory board. In later years, he saw the company that was his life’s work faced with a crisis that threatened its very existence before ultimately getting back on the road to success. With the launch of the Boxster in 1996, he witnessed the continuation of his vision of a mid-engine roadster that had kick-started the company’s journey back in 1948. When discussing the future of his sports car concept, he remained confident to the last: ‘The last car to be built will be a sports car.’ Ferry Porsche passed away on 27 March 1998. Another famous chapter in the company’s history came to an end that same year with the production of the last ever air-cooled 911.