5 Interesting Facts You Didn't Know About Porsche

On June 8, 1948, a hand-built aluminum prototype labeled “No. 1″ became the first vehicle to bear the name of one of the world’s leading luxury car manufacturers: Porsche. Here are 5 interesting facts you didn't know about this famous car company.

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Porsche Built The First Electric Vehicle The Tesla S electric car was introduced in 2012. But 112 years earlier a 23-year-old Ferdinand Porsche – with no former engineering education – was hired at Lohner-Werke in Vienna to create an electric drivetrain for the company's 'Horseless Carriages' – the 1900s term for 'cars'. The youthful prodigy mounted electric motors on the front-wheel hubs, which were fed by two electric generators which in turn were powered by two tiny 137cc one-cylinder gasoline engines. Most automotive historians recognize this 1900 Lohner-Porsche as the first, full-electric automobile. The automobile was showcased at the 1900 Paris World Fair. Due to a variety of factors, not the least of which being the fact that it was only 1900, the technology never quite caught on. 

The Famous Porsche Crest Was Designed On The Back Of A Napkin One of Porsche’s most famous and iconic features is of course its crest featured on the front of all vehicles. The crest is based on the coat of arms of Stuttgart, the capital of Baden-Württemberg and where Porsche has been based for decades.  The story is that Ferry, Ferdinand Porsche’s son, was meeting with a New York distributor in a restaurant. The distributor, Max Hoffman, suggested that the company needed a mascot or symbol. Ferry Porsche sketched the design on a napkin, took the napkin with him back to Germany, altered it a bit, and it was then placed on the company’s vehicles. 

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Porsche Used To Build Tractors While he was developing the Volkswagen Beetle in the 1930s, Ferdinand Porsche was also developing a prototype for a tractor called the Volkstraktor in German, but World War II caused the project to be shelved. When the project resumed, approximately 125,000 Porsche/Allgaier tractors were built between 1956-1963.  They even designed forklift trucks and airplane cockpits.

The French Arrested Porsche For Committing War Crimes Hitler sponsored a state-owned automobile factory that would produce the “People’s Car,” and, upon reviewing the conceptual vehicles that Ferdinand had developed, made the decision to proceed with Porsche’s design. Porsche was lauded as the “Great German Engineer” (despite being of Czech descent). Porsche joined both the National Socialist German Workers' Party and the SS in 1937.  By 1942, he had achieved the rank of SS-Oberführer. As a civilian officer of the SS, he was awarded the War Merit Cross. However, once World War II ended, his affiliation with the Nazis wasn't looked upon with favor, and the French arrested him, along with his son and son-in-law. Porsche's son was in prison for six months, while Ferdinand and his son-in-law served 22 months before being found innocent of the charges.

Porsche Built The First Volkswagen Beetle In His Garage A few months after submitting his design of a "People's Car" to the Reich Ministry of Transport, he received an order to develop it. The original order for one prototype increased to three by the ministry on December 7, 1934. Porsche assembled the models in his garage at his private villa in Stuttgart. Mass production of the car, which later became known as the Beetle, began after the end of the war.