Many Germans cringe when they hear Americans and others mispronounce the vehicle’s name as “PORSH.” The correct pronunciation is “POR-SHA”, after the German founder’s name. Maybe they should have spelled it “Portia”, like Ellen’s wife, it seems everyone knows how to say her name properly.
Sixty years ago, the first Porsche production sports car rolled out of a facility in post-war Germany—the city of Stuttgart to be precise. Now, with luxury cars and Porsche rentals Miami and worldwide, this is a brand to be reckoned with, even if you can’t say it properly.
It was gorgeous then, and six decades later, they still are. They are also still mispronounced with a frequency rivaling Amy Winehouse’s trips to the liquor store or Justin Beiber’s hits on Google. The exotic name has simply proven to be too complex to roll of many a tongue, but at least it is funny to hear others screw up, its right up there with Bugatti.
To mark the 60-year anniversary of Porsche production, the Porsche Museum, which opened in Stuttgart’s Zuffenhausen district in 2009, is hosting a photo exhibit and retrospective of the manufacturer’s history, and is displaying a replica of the first Porsche 356 Coupe built there.
In the late 1930’s a design team headed by company founder and industry pioneer Ferdinand Anton Porsche created the Volkswagen and experimented with designs for racecars as well. But World War II put a screeching halt to such experimentation, and it wasn’t until well after the war, and a stint in a French jail, that old Ferdinand was able to get back at it.
Porsche’s son, Ferry, picked up the ball, so to speak, and set about working on a new design in 1947 and titled his project “356”—numbers that would become legendary.
He used a VW engine and slung it out behind the rear axle, housing it in either coupe form, or open cockpit, and they built 50 of them in 1948. They were well received and it became clear that some production volume would be necessary.
The first production 356 was completed in Stuttgart on April 6, 1950, and 369 of them in total were produced that year. By 1952, Porsche was rolling them out of two plants in Stuttgart, and production of the 356 passed the 10,000 mark by 1956.
The iconic Porsche 911 hit the scene in 1964. Then it was on and on to so many more variations and models—all with the Porsche look and feel but in different incarnations. They built the sleek 908s of the late 60’s, and came out with a VW-based 914 sports car in 1969, then the 917s that brought Porsche a win at the famous “24 Hours of Le Mans” sports car race in 1970. These exotic car successes were to be followed by the likes of the 924, the 944, and the Boxster. As Tom Cruise’s character, says in the 80’s film, Risky Business,
“Porsche. There is no substitute.” â€¨
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