A Look Back At The Remarkable History Of Porsche

2013 porsche cayman los angeles auto show coolest cars

Photo: Porsche

At the Los Angeles Auto Show last month, Porsche revealed the 2013 Cayman, the third generation of the two-seat, mid-engine sports car.60 pounds lighter than its predecessor thanks to a new lightweight body, the Cayman produces 275 hp while getting 32 mpg, an impressive feat.

In light of this, we’ve decided to take a look at the company’s history, from its early sports cars, to its gritty war history, to the modern miracles of its automotive engineering. 

Enjoy salivating over some truly classic machines. 

1900: The first Porsche and the world's first hybrid car.

The 25-year-old Ferdinand Porsche was first brought into the limelight with the electric Lohner-Porsche.

In the same year, Porsche developed a gas-powered race car and a hybrid vehicle that ran on electricity and petrol. That's called being ahead of one's time.

The original Lohner-Porsche was developed for the Austrian royal carriage manufacturer Jacob Lohner and Co., and had a top speed of between 28 and 36 miles per hour.

1910: Porsche turns to racing.

In 1910, Ferdinand Porsche designed the Austro-Daimler touring car.

The mean machine had an impressive competitive career, achieving three victories at the motor event the Prince Henry Trials.

For added cool factor, Porsche himself sat behind the wheel to speed his car to victory.

1923: The birth of two icons.

Ferdinand Porsche rose to become technical director and a board member of the automotive company Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft.

In 1923, he designed one of the finest sports cars ever: the Mercedes Compressor.

Four years later, he went back to building race cars, producing the Mercedes-Benz S-Type.

1933: The Grand Prix racer is born.

In 1933, Porsche developed the Auto Union Type A, perhaps the first vehicle that channeled what we today call 'Formula One.'

This speed machine also spawned a less impressive (but still important) motoring classic: Its rear-mounted engine design was ultimately utilized in the manufacturing of the Volkswagen Beetle.

The race car could reach speeds of up to 170 miles per hour.

1939: The father of modern Porsches hits the road.

The sleek, smooth, speedy look, today synonymous with Porsche cars, arrived in 1939.

Three racing coupes, dubbed the 'Berlin-Rom-Wagen' and designed for longer distance races, made an appearance at the dawn of World War II. And they were gorgeous.

1939-45: Porsche's gritty war history.

Der Spiegel reported in 2009 that Porsche chooses largely to ignore its history during the war. Ferdinand Porsche was not a fervent supporter of Hitler, but he did exploit forced labour and manufacture armoured vehicles for the Nazis.

Since the late 1990s, the company has offered payments to anyone who can prove they were forced to work for the company during the war.

Porsche itself estimated its used no more than 50 forced workers. Other sources' estimates put that number significantly higher, at around 300.

1948: The first official Porsche sports car arrives.

The Porsche 356, emerging after World War II, was the first sports car to bear Porsche's name, instead of Mercedes or Daimler.

Just three years later, Ferdinand Porsche passed away.

By 1956, 10,000 356s had rolled off the Porsche production line.

1953: The 550 Spyder.

Two years after the death of Ferdinand Porsche, the company unveiled this beauty.

The car went on to win the Targa Florio, Italy's open road endurance motor race, on numerous occasions throughout the 1950s.

1964: Someone call 911!

Having reached the milestone of 50,000 production cars in 1962, Porsche unveiled arguably its greatest model, the 911.

It was followed up by the 911 Targa, which was introduced in 1965 before entering series production in 1966.

1969: The square-bottomed Porsche.

At the 1969 Frankfurt Auto Show, Porsche revealed this unusually rectangular model, the VW-Porsche 914.

1972: Porsche goes public.

Porsche became a public company in 1972, under the leadership of Ferdinand Porsche's son, Ferry Porsche.

The top of the line model at the spearhead of the company's production line? The ever-gorgeous 911 Carrera.

1985: Enter the Porsche 959.

The Porsche 959 combined the sleek look of the 911 with the slightly squared rear of the Porsche 914.

It was introduced at the 1985 Frankfurt Auto Show. Three years later the company celebrated the 25th birthday of the 911 by offering a model of the classic car with all-wheel-drive.

1991: Porsche pioneers front passenger airbags.

Porsche became the first German car company to manufacture all production models with airbags for front passenger as a standard feature in 1991.

1996: The Boxster is born.

Having unveiled plans in 1993 for this roadster, Porsche put the Boxster into production in 1996.

Its popularity led to an upgrade of the model in 1999, with the release of the Boxster S.

Also in 1996, the one millionth Porsche rolled off the production line.

2002: Porsche goes off-road. Sort of.

Having released the ridiculously souped-up Carrera GT in 2000, the company unveiled plans for the Cayenne series, Porsche's first SUV.

Though the immaculate machine looks unnervingly like an elevated alligator, we can't imagine it powering through any swamps.

2009: The Panamera combines power and luxury.

In the year that Ferry Porsche would have been 100 years old, Porsche released a sporty four-door model.

The Panamera represented the combination of a sports car with a luxury vehicle.

2011: Porsche returns to the hybrid.

The 918 Spyder is perhaps the mother of all hybrid cars. Certainly, it makes a mockery of Porsche's first hybrid from 1900.

This mean looking supercar was unveiled last year and is set to hit the road in 2013. It produces 770 bph and gets 94 mpg.

Now see more from Los Angeles.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.