The origin of the sports car
At the end of the 1940s, Ferry Porsche made a decision that had far-reaching consequences. In order to turn his long-held dream into reality, the Junior Partner in the Porsche design agency launched the project to design a sports car that would reflect his vision and bear his name. The 356 – both the design number and the type designation – became a legend.
The first prototype was ready to drive in the early summer of 1948. The mid-engine roadster with a four-cylinder VW Volkswagen flat engine increased to 35 hp was approved for the road in June 1948. The 356 “No. 1” Roadster was the first sports car to bear the Porsche name, giving rise to the brand. While this sports car with its lattice tube frame was still being developed, two variants of the 356 were created; a Coupé and a Cabriolet with a box frame and a rear engine. This concept was not only more spacious and comfortable, but also better value for money and better suited to series production. The story of the Porsche 356 had begun.
The first sports cars were produced at the post-war site in Gmünd, in Austria. In 1950, Porsche returned to Stuttgart and began production of the 356 in the neighbouring Reutter bodywork factory. Inspired by the surprising level of demand, engineers continued to come up with derivatives, which reinforced the brand’s reputation as an innovative manufacturer of reliable sports cars with superior driving dynamics.
Within just a few years, the Porsche design agency had built its second mainstay as a sports car manufacturer from scratch. The first sales networks were established in Europe, quickly followed by the USA. In addition to the first trade fair presentations, sensational victories in motorsport ensured the company’s reputation continued to grow. On the back of this success, Porsche pursued new channels with which to communicate with its customers, and became, for example, the first automotive manufacturer to have its own customer magazine – Christophorus.