Porsche is using a milestone birthday this year to pay tribute to its storied past. The iconic sports car brand will celebrate its 70th anniversary on June 8, marking the day the first-ever Porsche 356 was registered as an automobile. The tiny-engined 356 is not only Porsche’s first sports car, it remains one of the most legendary sports cars ever, and so the automaker celebrates its birthday as the birth of the brand.
70 years ago, Ferdinand “Ferry” Porsche turned his dream of a sports car into a reality with the 356—and a brand was born. The 356 inspired later icons including the Porsche 550 and Porsche 911, and without the 356 there would be no Mission E, the automaker’s latest leap into the future.
The first Porsche prototype with chassis number 356-001 received its general operating permit on June 8th, 1948, marking the birth of a brand that has produced far more than just automobiles over the past 70 years. Ferry Porsche built the 356 “No.1” Roadster—the first sports car to bear the Porsche name—to turn his idea of a sports car into a reality. All of the values that define the brand to this day are reflected in his vision from that time.
Mission E started as a concept vehicle and was supposed to go into production in late 2015—in time to compete with Tesla’s upper-end EVs and planned models by Fisker and other brands, by 2o2o.
In the meantime, Porsche has been showing off riffs on the basic Model E design like the Mission E Cross Turismo that it highlighted at the Geneva Motor Show last month.
The Cross Turismo is a concept study rather than a production-ready design, full of design touches such as LED lights that dance around and across the illuminated Porsche logo at the back. The Porsche badge in front is rendered in monochrome; the wheels are a deep blue; and the interior sports futuristic patterns.
The Porsche Principle
“In the beginning I looked around and could not find quite the car I dreamed of. So I decided to build it myself.”
This quote by Ferdinand (aka Ferry) Porsche gets to the heart of everything that makes Porsche what it is. As a brand, as a company and as an automotive manufacturer, it has been the luxury automaker’s guiding star for almost 70 years.
The longevity, innovation and continuing excellence of the Porsche brand is a tribute to one man’s vision, as “Ferry” Porsche turned his dream of a sports car into a reality with the 356.
“His vision at the time embodied all of the values that still define the brand to this day,” said Oliver Blume, chairman of the executive board of Porsche AG. Those values include “standard[s] of technical excellence,” technological expertise, creative employees and “a unique team spirit.”
“It covers all the values that characterise our work and our vehicles,” Porsche writes on its website. “His dream of the perfect sports car has always driven us—throughout our history. And we get closer to achieving it every day. With every concept, every development and every model. Along the way, we follow a plan, an ideal that unites us all. We refer to it simply as the Porsche Principle.”
The underlying principle is “to always get the most out of everything. From day one, we have strived to translate performance into speed—and success—in the most intelligent way possible. It’s no longer all about horsepower, but more ideas per horsepower. This principle originates on the race track and is embodied in every single one of our cars. We call it Intelligent Performance.”
Below, a closer look at the iconic Porsche 356—