PEOPLE: FERDINAND (FERRY) PORSCHE

Name: Ferdinand (Ferry) Porsche
Nationality: Austria

Born when his father, also Ferdinand, was chief engineer of Austro-Daimler in Wienerneustadt in Austria, Ferry Porsche grew up surrounded by racing machinery. At the age of 12 he was allowed to drive the Austro-Daimler Sascha which had competed on the Targa Florio. The family moved to Stuttgart in 1923 and eight years later Porsche began to work as a designer in his father's company Dr. Ing h.c.F Porsche KG. Their first design was a 2-liter car for the Wanderer company and when Wanderer became part of AutoUnion Porsche Sr. became chief designer of the Grand Prix car for the 1934 season. In 1934 as his father established the new Volkswagen company, Ferry became head of testing for the new company and later manager of the Porsche research department at Zuffenhausen. In 1940 he became his father's deputy and, after Ferdinand was arrested by the French, Ferry took over the company and moved it to Gmund where work began to produce the first Porsche car, based on the Volkswagen. The first Porsche 356 was finished in June 1948 and went into production soon afterwards.

In 1949 Ferry Porsche did a deal with Volkswagen for the supply of parts for the car. VW agreed to pay Porsche a royalty on every Volkswagen Beetle that was produced and the family became the sole importer of Volkswagens in Austria.

The Porsche company moved from Gmund to Stuttgart in March 1950 and work began on the design of a Porsche engine, called the Carrera. The company entered the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1951 and won its class, beginning a long association with sportscar racing which developed in the 1950s and resulted in the first victory in a World Championship event in 1959 on the Targa Florio and a string of further successes until the first World Championship title with the Porsche 908 in 1969. There were further titles in 1971 and 1972 with the 917. The success on the track was mirrored in production machinery with the 356 being replaced in 1964 by the Porsche 911, which was in production for 35 years.

The Porsche Family gave up active control of the company in 1972 when it was partially floated. Ferry Porsche became the chairman of the supervisory board. His nephew, Ferdinand Piech, who had been involved in the sportscar program, joined Audi NSU, part of the Volkswagen empire of which he later became head.

Ferry Porsche retired to Zell-am-Zee in Switzerland and died there in 1998.

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