The move to the State capital of Baden-Wuerttemberg marked the demise of the Austrian “Porsche Konstruktionen GmbH”; the company began trading again under the name “Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche KG”.
The first Porsche sports cars were produced in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen, in the Swabian region of Germany, in March and were listed at DM 10,200 (the price for the coupe). Walter Glöckler in Frankfurt became Germany’s first Porsche dealer.
Using the production capacity at Reutter company, 369 Porsche sports cars had been built by the end of the year. Prior to that, in addition to “No. 1”, 52 Porsche Type 356 cars had left the Gmünd plant with a light alloy body between 1948 and 1950.
In October, at the Paris Motor Show, Swiss journalist Max Troesch brokered a decisive meeting between Professor Ferdinand Porsche and the American automobile importer Maximilian E. Hoffman. As the representative of various European automobile brands, Hoffmann possessed his own dealer network on the American East Coast and was able to present the Porsche 356 in New York before the end of the year.
Company founder and automotive designer Professor Ferdinand Porsche died on January 30 at the age of 75.
At the Geneva Motor Show on March 14, an official agreement was negotiated between Porsche KG and AMAG for the export of Porsche sports cars to Switzerland, and complemented on April 5 by a main agency contract.
Motor sport was becoming increasingly important for the young carmaker Porsche. Following success in the international Alpine event the year before with Otto Mathé at the wheel, Porsche attracted international attention by winning its category in the Le Mans 24-hour race. Driving a Porsche 356 SL alloy-bodied coupe, the French Porsche importer and main agent Auguste Veuillet, partnered by Edmond Mouche, won the 1.1-liter class. The category win achieved by Paul von Guilleaume and Count von der Mühle in the Liège-Rome-Liège long distance race in August was equally attention impressive.
With a total of 1364 356 series produced, this was a highly successful year for Porsche KG. The Porsche workforce had grown to 214 employees by the end of the year, with sales exceeding 11 million Deutschmarks. The following year, the car program was expanded to include the lightweight 356 America roadster as well as the coupe and cabriolet.
The beginning of the year saw the first publication of the Porsche customer magazine Christophorus, the “magazine for friends of the Porsche marque”.
May saw the founding of the Porsche Club Hohensyburg, later renamed the Porsche Club Westphalia, the first official association of private Porsche drivers.
In June, Porsche KG received a development commission from the American carmaker Studebaker.
The Porsche 356 proved its reliability at numerous racing events and won the German sports car championship. At the international Eifel Race on the Nürburg Ring, a private Glöckler-Porsche won at the first attempt and at the Le Mans 24-hour race Veuillet/Mouche set a new record in their class. Porsche also dominated the Liège-Rome-Liège long distance rally race.
In November, car production began in the new main building of plant number 2, situated near to the Reutter company. By the end of the year, company management and the design and sales departments had also moved in.
Following successful bench testing, the four-camshaft engine (Type 547) designed by Porsche engineer Ernst Fuhrmann made its first public appearance at the Paris motor show. As well as the Porsche Type 550 racing car, the “Fuhrmann engine” was also used in the later Carrera versions of the 356.
A total of 18 Porsche sports cars from six countries took part in the 20th Mille Miglia, all of them covering the full 1,600 kilometers and reaching the finish in Brescia. Porsche won both the 1,300 and 1,500 cc engine-size categories.
At Le Mans, two Porsche Type 550s, crewed by Helm Glöckler and Hans Herrmann and by Richard von Frankenberg and Paul Frère, lined up on the starting grid for the first time. At an average speed of 138.8 km/h, these racing cars with their fully-enclosed body took the first two places in the 1.5-liter engine size category.
The crowning achievements that concluded Porsche’s racing season were victories in the German Sports car Championship by Richard Trenkel in the 1,100-cc category and Hans Herrmann in the 1,500-cc category.
In December, work began on development of the Type 597 “Jagdwagen“, in response to a Bundeswehr invitation to tender for an amphibious all-wheel-drive vehicle.
In 1954 Porsche enthusiasts throughout the world again took part in motor sport events, making the Porsche brand synonymous with sporty character and scoring 206 rally and 214 racing victories. In the Swedish “Rally of the Midnight Sun”, Carl-Gunnar Hammarlund was the overall winner in a Type 356. In the Reims 12-hour race, Helmut Polensky and Richard von Frankenberg, along with Auguste Veuillet and Jacky Olivier, were first and second across the line in their category in their Porsche Type 550 Spyders. After this came the first four places at the Nürburg Ring and then the Liège-Rome-Liège rally, which again proved to be a Porsche festival, with the overall winner and six of the first eleven cars home coming from the Porsche stable. Other highlights were the German sports car championship, won by Hans Herrmann, victory in the sports car category of the Tour de France (Storez/Linge) and class wins in the Mille Miglia (Herrmann/Linge) and Carrera Panamericana (Herrmann).
Although trials of the Porsche Type 597 were completed successfully by the Bundeswehr, a government committee decided against the all-wheel-drive off-road vehicle from Zuffenhausen at the end of the year. As the Porsche plant was operating at full capacity making sports cars, it was ultimately decided not to proceed with a civilian version of the Type 597, so that only a pre-production run of 71 units of the Porsche “Jagdwagen” was ever made.
With almost 500 employees, Porsche KG produced a total of 1,853 vehicles. Starting in September this included for the first time 15 Type 356 Speedster sports cars, a lightweight version of the 356 designed specifically for the US American market and in due course a true sales success at its basic list price of around 3,000 US dollars.
At the Mille Miglia the three Porsche Type 550 Spyder entries all reached the finishing line and took first, third and fourth places in their category. In the Swedish rally, run on roads and tracks crossing the Arctic Circle, Type 356 sports cars took the first four places in the overall rankings. On the racetrack Porsche was again outstanding, with yet another Le Mans class win and victory in the 1,500-cc sports car category of the German championship with Richard von Frankenberg at the wheel.
At the International Motor Show in Frankfurt, held in September, saw the appearance of the Porsche 356 A with the new 1.6 liter engine. Outwardly the technically improved “A series” was recognizable by the curved, panoramic windshield. Top of the range model was the Porsche 356 A 1500 GS Carrera; its 100 HP engine had its origins in motor racing.
Export was becoming increasingly important to Porsche KG; in 1955 almost half of the annual output was sold overseas, including 1,514 sports cars exported to North America.
Dissatisfaction with the customer service provided by the Hoffman Motor Car Company finally culminated in the dispatch of Porsche employee Otto Erich Filius to the USA. In October, he opened Porsche’s first office of its own in New York, and proceeded to build an independent sales network under the name “Porsche of America Corporation” (POAC).
The “Porsche-Diesel-Motorenbau GmbH Friedrichshafen a.B.“ was founded on January 1 in Friedrichshafen on Lake Constance, as a member-company of the Mannesmann Group. Autumn of the same year saw the start of production in Manzell of what were now called Porsche Diesel tractors and stationary engines.
The 1000-kilometer race at the Nürburg Ring on May 27 proved to be yet another triumph for Porsche, with the driver teams Maglioli/von Trips and Herrmann/von Frankenberg taking the first two places in the 1.5 liter competition sports car category in the Type 550 A Spyder.
At the Targa Florio Umberto Maglioli drive a Porsche Type 550 A Spyder to an overall victory on June 10. On July 29, the Le Mans 24-hour race ended for Porsche in a class win for the sixth time in succession.
The American private entrants Bunker/Wallace and Kunstle/Miles took the first two places in their class in the Sebring 12-hour race, which counted toward the world sports car championship.
In May, a Porsche Type 550A Spyder production car took its place on the starting grid of the what was to be the last Mille Miglia road race, and with Umberto Maglioli at the wheel won its category and came fifth in the overall placements. In the 1,600 cc GT category, Paul Ernst Strähle and Herbert Linge took victory in Strähle’s Porsche 356 A Carrera GT.
After taking the first four places in the 1,000-kilometer race on the Nürburg Ring and a class victory by private entrants Hugus/de Beaufort in the Le Mans 24-hour race, Porsche lined up on the grid at the Nürburg Ring for the first time on August 4 for the Formula 2 Grand Prix. The race was won by Edgar Barth driving a Porsche Type 550 A Spyder.
In October, the new Porsche diesel sales programme is introduced, which consists of the basic Schlepper types Junior, Standard, Super and Master and covers a power range from 14 HP to 50 HP.
In the meantime the number of German Porsche dealers selling the cars made in Zuffenhausen had reached 142, with a further 128 sales partners in the rest of Europe.
In August the 356 A Convertible D, with body from Heilbronn-based coachbuilding specialist Drauz, replaced the Porsche 356 A Speedster.
In the 1,000-kilometer race held in Buenos Aires on January 26, racing drivers Stirling Moss and Jean Behra took third place overall in a Porsche Type 550 A Spyder behind two 3-liter Ferraris and were victorious in the 2-liter sports car category.
In the Formula 2 race in Reims, Frenchman Jean Behra vanquished the world’s elite in this racing category in a Porsche Type 718 RSK that was in fact designed to compete as a sports car. Further successes finally persuaded company boss Ferry Porsche to agree to develop a new Formula 2 single-seater.
In addition to the titles of German champion in the sports car category (Jean Behra) and European champion in the hillclimb classification (Wolfgang Graf Berghe von Trips), Porsche was runner-up in the World Championship sports car constructors’ ranking.
In September, at the IAA in Frankfurt, Porsche presented its Type 356B, a completely revised version of the 356. A roadster variant replaced the Convertible D and complemented the product range in the lower price bracket.
At the German Industrial Trade Fair in Hanover, Porsche unveiled a comprehensive aero engine program, with power outputs from the Type 678/1, rated at 65 HP, to the Type 678/4 producing 75HP takeoff power.
At the Sebring 12-hour race, Porsche Type 718 RSK cars took third, fourth and fifth places in the overall rankings and won the 1.5- and 2-liter categories. Equal superiority was demonstrated in winning the German Hillclimb Grand Prix and a class victory in the Tourist Trophy race. The Liège-Yugoslavia-Liège rally ended in another victory for the Porsche brand and driver Paul Ernst Strähle. Heini Walter added the German sports car championship title to this record of success, and Edgar Barth brought home the European hillclimb championship.
Towards the end of the year Maximilian E. Hoffman handed over agency responsibilities, except those covering the American East Coast, to the “Porsche of America Corporation” (POAC), which henceforward was solely responsible on behalf of Porsche KG for sales, service and marketing in the United States.
In December the design team under Ferry Porsche’s son Ferdinand Alexander (F. A.) Porsche began work on project 754 (T 7).