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Ferdinand Porsche’s Pre-Porsche Race Car Legacy

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Ferdinand Porsche Legacy

Before the establishment of Porsche as a renowned sports car brand in 1948, marked by the registration of the inaugural Porsche 356, the foundation of the company’s legacy was laid earlier in 1931. This was when Ferdinand Porsche set up his own engineering firm. By this time, Porsche, in his 50s, had already amassed considerable experience in automotive design, working for various companies. A notable period in his career was his tenure as the managing director at Austro Daimler, an Austrian automotive manufacturer.

The Austro Daimler ADS-R Racing Car

During his time at Austro Daimler, at the age of 45, Porsche embarked on the development of the Austro Daimler ADS-R, a race car that would later be celebrated as a Targa Florio class victor. This vehicle, affectionately known as ‘Sascha’, holds the distinction of being the oldest operable vehicle housed at the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, Germany. The ADS-R has historical significance, returning to its birthplace in Wiener Neustadt, Austria, where Austro Daimler was originally based. Austro Daimler eventually merged into Steyr Daimler Puch in 1934, a company that now operates under the name Magna Steyr.

Porsche’s vision while at Austro Daimler extended beyond just racing vehicles. He aimed to create a small, lightweight, and affordable four-seater car, a concept that later influenced his design of the Volkswagen Beetle. To garner the necessary support from Austro Daimler’s board for his mass-production vehicle concept, Porsche also designed a race car. The resulting ADS-R used the same water-cooled 1.1-liter inline-4 engine as the proposed road car but was distinguished by its stripped-back design, featuring only a single seat for the driver. This engine, generating close to 50 horsepower, was tasked with propelling a mere 1,318 pounds.

The Legacy of the 1922 Austro Daimler ADS-R ‘Sascha’

The origin of the car’s nickname, ‘Sascha’, is linked to Alexander Joseph Graf Kolowrat-Krakowsky, the financier of the project, who was also affectionately known by the same name. Four prototypes of this race car made their debut at the 1922 Targa Florio. To ensure these cars were easily recognizable, Kolowrat-Krakowsky decided to adorn them with playing card symbols.

The ADS-R achieved impressive success at the Targa Florio, securing a one-two finish. Despite these racing triumphs and more, the plans for mass production of the car were never realized, largely due to the severe economic inflation in Austria and Germany during that era.

In commemoration of the centenary of the ADS-R, Porsche and its official magazine, “Christophorus,” arranged for the historic car to return to Wiener Neustadt. Although the original Austro Daimler factory no longer exists, landmarks like the Ferdinand-Porsche-Ring serve as a reminder of the town’s automotive heritage.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Ferdinand Porsche Legacy

What was Ferdinand Porsche’s role at Austro Daimler?

Ferdinand Porsche served as the managing director at Austro Daimler, where he designed several cars, including the notable Austro Daimler ADS-R race car.

What is the significance of the Austro Daimler ADS-R race car?

The Austro Daimler ADS-R, designed by Ferdinand Porsche, was a Targa Florio class champion known as ‘Sascha’. It is celebrated as the oldest drivable car at the Porsche Museum and symbolizes Porsche’s early automotive design prowess.

How did the Austro Daimler ADS-R get its nickname ‘Sascha’?

The nickname ‘Sascha’ for the Austro Daimler ADS-R race car came from Alexander Joseph Graf Kolowrat-Krakowsky, who funded the project and was himself nicknamed Sascha.

Why was the mass production of the Austro Daimler ADS-R not realized?

The mass production of the Austro Daimler ADS-R was halted primarily due to the severe economic inflation in Austria and Germany at the time, despite its racing successes.

How did Porsche commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ADS-R?

For the 100th anniversary of the ADS-R, Porsche and its magazine “Christophorus” organized the return of this historic car to Wiener Neustadt, the location of the original Austro Daimler factory.

More about Ferdinand Porsche Legacy

  • Porsche Museum: ADS-R Exhibition
  • Ferdinand Porsche’s Early Career
  • Targa Florio and the ADS-R
  • Austro Daimler’s Automotive History
  • Magna Steyr: Evolution from Austro Daimler
  • Wiener Neustadt’s Automotive Heritage

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Mike Jansen December 4, 2023 - 5:19 pm

Wow, really didn’t know Porsche had such a rich history before the famous 356, amazing how these old designs still influence cars today.

HistoryBuff December 4, 2023 - 7:00 pm

great article but a bit more on the economic context of the time wouldve been nice, it played a big role in automotive industry back then.

CarLover123 December 4, 2023 - 8:27 pm

Ferdinand Porsche was a genius, but this article misses some details about his work in other companies before Austro Daimler, like mercedes and stuff.

Sara_K December 5, 2023 - 1:33 pm

Honestly, it’s kinda sad they never mass produced the ADS-R, imagine what roads would look like with those beauties around!


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