Porsche all-wheel drive cars

Porsche can look back on a long tradition of all-wheel drive. Back in 1900, Ferdinand Porsche built the first car ever to include this feature.

Around the year 1900, Ferdinand Porsche was working at Lohner-Werke in Vienna when he was commissioned by the Englishman E. W. Hart to build an all-wheel drive electric car. Porsche duly created the first car in the world to feature all-wheel drive by installing four of his wheel hub motors. The Lohner-Porsche was named ‘La Toujours Contente’ (‘always satisfied’) and entered a race on 6 November 1900 in Chislehurst, located south of London.

During the Second World War, Porsche technicians built military cars from the early 1940s onwards. Models including the all-wheel drive type 87 Kommandeurswagen commander’s car were followed by the amphibious type 166 Schwimmwagen, of which 14,000 units were produced up to 1944. After the war, Porsche received the order to build the Cisitalia type 360 in 1947. This Italian Grand Prix car was also equipped with all-wheel drive. When drafting the concept for the amphibious all-wheel drive car type 597 Jagdwagen in 1953, the Porsche developers drew on their earlier experience with the Schwimmwagen – however, this only ran to a pilot series of 71 units as the German army subsequently opted for a different model.

Porsche began including all-wheel drive in civilian cars in 1981, when a study of a 911 Turbo convertible featuring all-wheel drive was presented at the IAA in Frankfurt. The Group B study was unveiled two years later, leading to the development of the high-tech 959 in 1985. As with so many other technologies, the engineers first subjected the all-wheel drive of this car to testing in a rugged motorsport setting. The 911 Carrera 3.2 4x4 Paris-Dakar (953) was developed as a rally car for this purpose in 1983 and went on to be a runaway success, with René Metge and Dominique Lemoyne taking it to victory in the 1984 Paris–Dakar Rally. Two years later, Porsche won the Paris–Dakar Rally with the Rally variant of the 959 – and the type 961, which had been derived from the 959 for circuit racing, took seventh place overall in Le Mans.

Since 1988, all-wheel drive has been an essential aspect of Porsche’s identity. Starting with the 911 Carrera 4, all-wheel drive has been a permanent fixture in the 911. All-wheel drive is also featured in the Cayenne and Macan SUVs, the majority of the Panamera models and the high-performance 918 Spyder.

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