Weblog of Miss-Lou Motor Mafia

October 27, 2008

On This Day In Automotive History…

Filed under: History — Tags: — blasterhappy @ 6:37 am

October 27, 1945

Porsche is arrested

Born in Bohemia in 1875, Dr. Ferdinand Porsche devoted himself to mechanical engineering early in life, providing electric light for his family at the age of 15 after constructing everything from the necessary generator to the light bulb. Porsche soon became involved in automotive design, climbing the ranks at Daimler, the Auto Union, and Mercedes-Benz. Famous Porsche-designed cars of this period include the Prince Henry Austro-Daimler, the 38/250 Mercedes-Benz, and the P-Wagon Auto Union Grand Prix car. In 1930, Porsche established a successful auto engine design company of his own, and, in 1934, submitted a design proposal to Adolf Hitler’s new German Reich government, calling for the construction of a small, simple, and reliable car that would be affordable enough for the average German. Nazi propagandists immediately embraced the idea, coining the name “Volkswagen” or “people’s car,” at an automobile show later in the year. The first completed model was introduced in 1938, available for $400. The simple, beetle-shaped automobile was sturdily constructed with a kind of utilitarian user-friendliness scarcely seen in an automobile before. But the outbreak of World War II prevented mass production of the automobile, and the newly constructed Volkswagen factory turned to war production, constructing military vehicles such as the “Kubelwagen,” a jeep-type vehicle, the “Schwimmwagen,” an amphibious car, and the lethal “Tiger” tank.
After the Allied victory in the war, Porsche, like other German industrialists who participated in the German war effort, was investigated on war-crime charges. On this day, Ferdinand Porsche was arrested by U.S. military officials for his pro-Nazi activities, and was sent to France where he was held for two years before being released. Meanwhile, the Allies approved the continuation of the original Volkswagen program, and Volkswagen went on to become a highly successful automobile company. As his brainchild Volkswagen grew, Porsche himself returned to sports-car design and construction, completing the successful Porsche 356 in 1948 with his son Ferry Porsche. In 1951, Ferdinand Porsche suffered a stroke and died, but Ferry continued his father’s impressive automotive legacy, achieving a sports car masterpiece with the introduction of the legendary Porsche 911 in 1963.

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