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Portrait: the Porsche and Piëch families - Part 2/3

The Porsche design office hired in front of Hilter to complete the people's car project within a given timeframe, work in families on it, Ferry directs the tests of the future Beetle in the prototype test workshops built on the occasion in Stuttgart in Germany and which is the cradle of the current Porsche factories, while his father went to the USA at General Motors and Ford famous for his Ford T techniques to study mass production techniques which he did not know. On October 12, 1936, Porsche presented 3 prototypes called KdF-wagens (Kraft durch Freude = "strength through joy" and in 1936 Hitler gave them the name Volkswagen = the people's car) to Hitler and asked him by the same opportunity the means to build a factory capable of producing the Beetle on a large scale according to the principles learned in the USA In 1937 a new town was created to accommodate the factory and was called by the Nazis KDF (force by joy, the name of 'a large recreation organization in Nazi Germany) it would later be christened Wolfsburg. In 1938 the first car left the factories of the city also renamed and named Wolfsburg from the name of the castle on which it was built.

Presentation of the KdF-wagens prototypes to the Reichsführer, October 12, 1936


What the official story does not say is that Ferdinand Porsche, and we will therefore speak in the subjunctive, could have been '' inspired '' by the work of the Czech manufacturer who had made an almost similar prototype with the V570 in 1931. and 1933 whose goal was to develop a popular, low-cost car with an aerodynamic body, almost similar in form to the prototypes presented to the Reichsführer. The resemblances are not only aesthetic, but also mechanical. Tatra will launch a lawsuit that will be stopped when Germany invades Czechoslovakia. In the book Car Wars, the author J. Mantle specifies that Ferdinand Porsche would have admitted to having been somewhat inspired by the Tatra V570 when designing the Beetle. V570 developer Ledwinka and Porsche have met regularly to share the results of their work. Porsche under the pressure of Hilter and by constraints of time and cost could have used various patents filed by Tatra.


Prototype II of the TatraV570 - 1933

Prototype of the KdF-wagens - 1938


Soon after, in 1939 Hilter declared war and the VW factory began producing vehicles for the German army in three forms:

The Kübelwagen,

the Schwimmwagen (an amphibious car),

and the Kommanderwagen which takes the body of the kdf-wagen.

For the Porsche family it is a source of wealth, the factory is going at full speed and it is the kind of Ferdinand Porsche, Anton Piëch who runs it.

Anton Piëch


Anton Piëch and Ferdinand Porsche use all means, through their influence, to run the factory as much as possible while spending at least, it is thus, without scruple any who have had recourse to compulsory labor, requisitioned forced workers and detained Jews. During the war the factory was bombed and the flattery Porsche and Piëch took refuge in Austria in the family home.

KDF (VW) factory after WWII bombing


After the war, Porsche was asked to continue Volkswagen design in France and to relocate the equipment factory as part of war reparations. Differences within the French government and objections from the French auto industry put an end to this project before it began. The French invited Ferdinand Porsche, Ferry Porsche and Anton Piëch to visit the 4CV installations in Renault factories, then the police arrested them on the spot under the pretext of badly contracting French forced laborers (Ferdinand Porsche, who became coordinator of the industrial effort of the Third Reich, contributes to the deportation of eight directors of the Peugeot plant in Sochaux after finding that they have returned to resistance) in their KDF plant and theft of manufacturing processes belonging to the Peugeot brand. Ferry Porsche is released while the other two are imprisoned for a period of two years until 1947 and is released in exchange for the sum of one million French francs.

During this time, to protect his father's work and the threat of confiscation by the occupying powers, on April 1, 1947, Ferry Porsche and his sister Louise (married since 1928 to lawyer Dr. Anton Piëch) founded the company Austrian Porsche Konstruktionen GesmbH in Gmünd, of which they become managers. At that time, the Italian industrialist Dusio commissioned the now Austrian company to build a Formula 1 racing car with all-wheel drive. For financial reasons, the “Cisitalia” will not compete in any race. However, with the earnings of this order, the brother and sister manage to pay the bail of their imprisoned father and thus allow his return home. Ferry, on the basis that a Beetle will create the first vehicle that will bear the Porsche name: the 356. On his release from prison, the KDF factory took the name of the Volkswagen car model and the name of the Beetle or Beetle car according to the markets and the city officially takes the name of Wolfsburg, everything to change for him, especially since he no longer has a direct relationship with the factory and the models, however he only has the rights left. He was therefore able to negotiate with the new managers of the factory royalties on each model sold worth 5 pounds and during all the years of production, 21,529,464 were sold over 65 years (1938 -2003) the one that made him the most popular single model of all time. The other clauses of the contract are: the authorization to build a sports car on the basis of the Beetle (the Porsche 356) and the distribution by what will be, later, the Volkswagen global network, but also agreements relating to the technical services of the Porsche design office and finally the general Volkswagen import contract for Austria.

As for the Porche brand, whose company is located in Gmünd in Carinthia (Austria) having evacuated Stuttgart to avoid Allied bombing raids, the company begins to manufacture the Porsche 356 in a former sawmill in Gmünd where 49 cars are built entirely by hand. In 1949, the family returned to Stuttgart (Germany). Despite the American embargo affecting the Porsche family, they somehow managed to produce in Germany the Porsches whose sales over time exceeded all forecasts, which was fatal for Ferdinand Porsche who seeing the cars for the first time. 356 on the production line with the emblem that bears his name, suffered a stroke in 1951 from which he did not recover, he died on January 30 of the same year. From there begins a new story, his son creator of the 356 and quite designated for him succeeded, but the will of Ferdinant indicates that his heritage and the Porsche brand and bequeathed equally between his two children, and this, without designating the one who will take the reins of the family business, it is the beginning of the saga between Porsches and Piëches as well as those of Porsche and VW.

Ferdinand Porsche alongside the Porsche 356


... Part 3


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