1953-1957 Porsche 550 Spyder

1954 PORSCHE 550 SPYDER
1954 PORSCHE 550 SPYDER

Due to the success of the Porsche 356/2, Ferry Porsche was now more confident that his business idea was successful. He also understood that he cannot keep the Porsche manufacturing plant in Gmund due to the lack of resources and its secluded location. The nearest railway station to the factory was 15 km away, and his staff often complained about the transportation difficulties they faced every day.

Ferry Porsche decided to relocate his business and the workshop to Stuttgart, five hundred kilometers away from their current location. Stuttgart was where Ferdinand Porsche founded his Porsche Bureau, it is also the home to Daimler Benz, the largest car manufacturer of its time.

Stuttgart was not only the cradle of the automotive industry but also the main hub of automotive manufacturer’s decision-making.

Meanwhile, the situation in Germany was changing in a positive direction. With British, German, and French investments, the German industrialists were once again raising their heads. 24% Industrial growth in 1949 was only the beginning.

From the mid-1948 to the fall of 1949, more than 80,000 new job opportunities were created due to the expansions of new ventures and contractions of wartime industrial plants.

By September 1948, Porsche got together with Volkswagen in Wolfsburg, to concentrate on the beginning series production of their automobiles. Ferry Porsche moved most of the Gmund operations to his sister, Louise Piech’s facility in Salzburg. Louise Peich’s facility was also the Austrian distributor for Volkswagen, by the fall of 1949. Bernhard Blank was still acting as the Porsche distributor in Switzerland and elsewhere

The Porsche 356/2 cars that were produced in Gmund plant were all sold, but they brought too little profit to the company that was run on a tight budget. Ferry Porsche wanted to return to the Porsche headquarters and its large facilities and its considerable staff of skilled workers in Zuffenhausen. He then sought the support of Stuttgart’s mayor, Lord Arnulf Klett, and one of his personal friends in the name of Albert Prinzing regarding getting access to their headquarters and its facilities that the US armed forces had turned into a headquarters for its occupying forces.

Ferry Porsche then invited subcontractors to bid on car body manufacturing and a coachbuilder called Reutter Karosserie based in Zuffenhausen, signed up for the manufacturing process of five hundred units in November 1949.

Eventually, orders came in with dealers paying in advance, and Porsche was solvent after all.

In June 1950, Ferry planned relocation to Zuffenhuasen by the end of the year, but the Korean War broke out and this resulted in US armed forces holding into the Porsche workshops.

1948 Porsche 356/2

To expand his facilities, Ferry Porsche acquired a cramped building next to Reutter to build the car bodies. Porsche delivered its first Zuffenhausen assembled coupe in the spring of 1950.

In January 1951, Ferdinand Porsche died at seventy-five after suffering a stroke followed by a previous stroke which he suffered the previous November. Porsche now solely run by Ferry Porsche was growing and the cars he manufactured were sold in increased numbers.

Back in Gmund based facilities, their first prototype, the Porsche 356/1, a mid-engine open-top racer participated in local races in 1949. Ferry Porsche was also a motorsport enthusiast, a trait he inherited from his father.

Porsche 356 No 1 Roadster 1
Porsche 356 No 1 Roadster 1
Porsche 356 No 1 Roadster 1
Porsche 356 No 1 Roadster 1

Both father and son equally believed that racing forced the engineers and designers to constantly work on new engineering improvements, and it also results in newspaper coverage which is very important for brand growth.

Competition in motorsports, gave Porsche more publicity and soon the public got to know what the Porsche cars are capable of achieving. This resulted in increased sales.

The Porsche 356 model competed in motorsport events, but it was purpose-built racers constructed by Porsche dealers and racing teams were the main influence for their next project.

 

Sauter Porsche and Glöckler Porsche Race cars

In 1951, Heinrich Sauter, a Stuttgart-based businessman, commissioned a local body shop to fabricate a lightweight open-top race car using a Porsche chassis and its new 1500cc engine. This car saw some competition, and Porsche decided to purchase it in 1952. Porsche engineers then went on to use it as a test mule for the new project. The test mule was then equipped with their more powerful all-new 1500cc Super engine, the Type 528.

Walter Glöckler, a well-known Volkswagen dealer based in Frankfurt, created a series of lightweight open-top cars using ladder-style tube frame chassis construction and a sleeker body. The first car was equipped with a 1100cc VW pushrod engine to compete in 1950. The success of this car eventually led to the usage of Porsche 1500cc engines as a standard to power their cars.

1952 Glockler-Porsche 356 Roadster front
1952 Glockler-Porsche 356 Roadster front
1952 Glockler-Porsche 356 Roadster
1952 Glockler-Porsche 356 Roadster
1953 Glöckler-Porsche 1500 Super 1
1953 Glöckler-Porsche 1500 Super 1
1953 Glöckler-Porsche 1500 Super
1953 Glöckler-Porsche 1500 Super

Ferry Porsche and his staff supported these outside efforts openly, but they also wondered if those efforts might be more successful in terms of marketing perspective. This resulted in the development of a fully in-house-built Porsche race car.

The Gmund coupes were now called SL models and not powerful enough to compete against the custom-built race cars of the outsiders. So, the Gmund coupe was eventually paced out in the same year.

In 1952, a lightweight open-top Porsche America Roadster Type 540 was unveiled and produced in limited numbers, but it still wasn’t good enough to compete against the outsiders.

Porsche 356 America Roadster
Porsche 356 America Roadster
Porsche 356 America Roadster interior
Porsche 356 America Roadster interior
Porsche 356 America Roadster
Porsche 356 America Roadster

Erwin Komenda, Porsche’s chief body designer, had expanded his facility when the company returned to Zuffenhausen, and his new workforce included a local baker called Heinrich Klie.

Heinrich Klie used his skills as a baker to bake a loaf of bread in the shape of the Porsche 356 with the help of his brother, as a birthday present for Ferry Porsche. Ferry Porsche then asked them to explain the process behind the formed shape. After they explained it to Ferry Porsche, he asked them whether they could repeat the task with clay. Heinrich Klie was then hired full-time as a clay model maker, an important part of the design of car bodies.

Porsche 550 Spyder

1953 - 1957 Porsche 550 Spyder cockpit
1953 – 1957 Porsche 550 Spyder cockpit
1953 - 1957 Porsche 550 Spyder steering
1953 – 1957 Porsche 550 Spyder steering
1954 PORSCHE 550 SPYDER 1
1954 PORSCHE 550 SPYDER 1
1955 Porsche 550 1500 RS Spyder
1955 Porsche 550 1500 RS Spyder
1955 Porsche 550 Spyder rear
1955 Porsche 550 Spyder rear
1955 Porsche 550 Spyder
1955 Porsche 550 Spyder
1957 Porsche 550 A Spyder front
1957 Porsche 550 A Spyder front
1957 Porsche 550 A Spyder
1957 Porsche 550 A Spyder
Porsche 550 A Spyder
Porsche 550 A Spyder

The first two Porsche 550 Spyders make their racing debut in May 1953 at Nürburgring Eifelrennen. Walter Glockler’s nephew, Helm won the 1.5-liter class in a Porsche engine-powered Porsche branded race car.

Two weeks later, Porsche entered both Porsche 550 Spyders at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where one car placed first in the class and also set a record for distance traveled.

1953 Porsche 550-001 Panamericana rear
1953 Porsche 550-001 Panamericana rear
1953 Porsche 550-001 Panamericana
1953 Porsche 550-001 Panamericana

This was just the beginning of the legend, and by the time the factory updated the first model 550/1500RS with the second-generation Porsche 550 A, and the successor Porsche 718 RSK, the Porsche 550 Spyders went on to achieve hundreds of victories and class wins at racing events across the Europe, South and North America, including the international events such as the Sicily’s Targa Florio and Mexico’s Carrera Panamericana.

1955 – 1965 Porsche 356

 
 

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