Porsche 356

Nathan Glon

August 26, 2022

When WWII spewed out of control, the automobile industry plummeted. Car companies were lost and drifting in the wind, trying to find a way to stay afloat in the global turmoil of war. When the war finally ended. Automobile constructors rushed to stake their claim in the resurgence of the market. In the 1950’s most cars were big and clunky, with tons and tons of metal around an engine. They were as long as school buses, and so unnecessarily wide. However, when Ferdinand “Ferry” Porsche displayed his tiny sports car, the world was shaken. It had the engine put on backward, was surprisingly nimble, quick enough to be on a race track, and news of its reliability traveled quickly. 

The design was originally made from Aluminum that was formed around a wooden mold of the 356 designed by legend Erwin Kowenda. They later switched to steel due to construction costs. Because Porsche was trying to cut weight it had no heater, no carpets, thin doors, and just the needed technology to operate. The 356 was hence named the icebox, and driving this car anywhere without sunlight is utterly idiotic. This car was especially attractive because you could go win a race Sunday and then go get groceries on a Monday morning. This design paved the way for all of the other Porsche models to come after it, the two headlights sticking out of the fenders, the rear-mounted engine, the reliability, and a design so clean and minimalistic that its silhouette alone could identify this car.

The legendary design of the 356 then gave way for the 550 spyder powered by a 1.5 liter 4 cam engine engineered by Ernst Fuhrmann. This engine was nicknamed the “draw motor'', because Ernst hadn’t been authorized to work on such a project. When Ferry Porsche used to come into Ernst’s office, Ernst had to hide the designs in his drawer to keep his job. This 550 ended up racing in the greatest endurance race in the world at the time, The Carrera Panamericana. This race was a long 7-day event and tested not only the focus of the drivers but also the reliability of the cars that were being driven. Porsche was so successful that they decided to add the Carrera title to their most highly developed cars.

Porsche is sort of known for being a very masculine brand but in fact, the first-ever customer was a woman. Elisabeth Spielhofer bought the 1948 prototype of the 356, and it was sold to her in Zurich. This sale allowed Porsche to get funds to further grow their enterprise, which now has paid off given the fact that Porsche is worth close to $23 billion.