Gear Head Tuesday – 1st Porsche and 1 Millionth 911

Gear Head


Above: The first Porsche – Chassis #356-001 was completed on 8 June 1948.
Below: the first 911 (originally labeled Typ 901) appeared in 1964. Shown is a 1970 model.

911 - Irish Green


Ferry Porsche’s personal 911 was painted Irish Green. To commemorate the 1,000,000th 911, Porsche built a 911 in Irish Green (below).


Remembered mostly for the cars bearing his name, Ferdinand Porsche was an engineering genius who left his mark on many other areas of transportation. Born in the town of Maffersdorf in what was then Bohemia on 3 September 1875, he became a sought-after engineer in his adult life. He designed the first gasoline-electric hybrid car. (In that light, if we were being uncharitable, we could blame him for the Prius …) The first front-drive car was a Porsche design. He designed tractors for moving artillery pieces. At Austro-Daimler, he developed aircraft engines. After World War I, Austro-Daimler fell on hard times and Ferdinand Porsche moved to the German auto builder, Daimler (which was not related to Austro-Daimler). Daimler and Benz merged and at Daimler-Benz, Ferdinand Porsche was responsible for designing the famed SS and SSK sports cars.

Ferdinand Porsche

Ferdinand Porsche

In 1930, Ferdinand Porsche, his son Ferdinand, Jr. (“Ferry”) and Karl Rabe founded the Porsche engineering firm. Ferdinand Porsche had been impressed with Henry Ford’s success with the Model T and had sought to interest several of his former employers as he worked for them in building a small affordable mass-produced peoples car. No one was interested. Then Porsche met Adolf Hitler. Hitler wanted a “peoples car,” and out of this the Volkswagen (“peoples car”) was born.

Because of his efforts on behalf of the Nazi regime in World War II (including his design of the Tiger tank), Ferdinand Porsche was arrested and imprisoned in Dijon, France. Ferry designed a racing car using Porsche technology for Cisitalia and used his income from that project (and other income) to pay the bond for the release of his father, then in his 70s. Ferdinand Porsche, Sr. died on 30 January, 1951.

Setting up shop in Gmünd, Austria, the Porsches designed a mid-engine roadster using many VW parts, including the engine. The first of these roadsters, bearing chassis number 356-001, was completed on 8 June 1948. The “356” refers to the project number of the Porsche engineering firm.

This first car to be labeled as a Porsche was mid-engined. This design continued in limited production but evolved into a coupe, with the engine mounted at the rear to allow for two small rear seats.


The Typ 356 continued in production in various forms through 1965.


Ferry Porsche and an early 911. Both the 356 and the 911 were his designs.
Ferry Porsche was born on 19 September 1909 and died on 27 March 1998.

The successor to the 356 was the Typ 901. Peugeot, who used a “0” in their numbering system, made a squawk over the designation “901” so Porsche, even though the design was their 901st project, yielded and the 901 became the 911.

Ferry Porsche’s personal 911 was painted Irish Green. The seats were black leather  with  houndstooth pattern fabric inserts.

Earlier this year, Porsche built its 1,000,000th 911. To mark the occasion, they painted this car Irish Green and fitted it with black leather seats with the houndstooth pattern fabric inserts just as on Ferry Porsche’s personal 911.


Porsche tractor

Little known fact: Porsche built tractors for several years after WWII. Porsche tractors were never officially imported into the U.S.


Add yours →

  1. Dave Brownell 04/07/2017 — 09:22

    For those of us who have appreciated the British pronunciation of our favorite old car brand as a “pah Card” instead of the American “Pack Urd”, perhaps we ought to pause with the several pronunciations of Porsche: The family and most Porsche fans (American and German) do it as Porsh Ah. Incorrect is Pors Shee and the more infrequent Porch. Shakespeare might have done it as Portia.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah, on the name. I had a young lady that worked for me in Gitmo who drove one an taught me the pronunciation. LOL
    Another story I did not know. THANKS. I have a love/hate relationship (mentally) with the Porsche! Never owned or driven one and still love ’em and hate ’em.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The problem with Porsches today is not the cars but many of the people who buy them. Too few who buy them today truly appreciate them for what they are capable of. These people are the ones who buy a Porsche to wear as a badge saying “I’ve arrived.” So the problem is not the car but many of the people who buy them. Porsche marches on, however, building extraordinarily capable cars for people who are capable drivers.


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