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Ferdinand Porsche

AKA Ferdinand Anton Porsche

Born: 3-Sep-1875
Birthplace: Mattersdorf, Czech Republic
Died: 30-Jan-1951
Location of death: Stuttgart, Germany
Cause of death: Stroke
Remains: Buried, Schüttgut Chapel, Zell am See, Austria

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Engineer, Business

Nationality: Austria
Executive summary: Designer of the Volkswagen Beetle

Ferdinand Porsche was born in a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire that is now in the Czech Republic. His only training as an engineer came in night courses at Vienna Technical University, but he became a legendary figure among German engineers. At Lohner, a company that manufactured separate gas- and electric-powered automobiles in the late 1800s, Porsche designed the first gas-electric hybrid vehicle, which was marketed as the Lohner-Porsche. He was later the primary designer of the Landwehr train, a four-wheel drive vehicle with motors at each wheel, used to provide supplies for German forces in World War I. For his work on the train he was given an honorary doctorate in 1917 from Vienna Technical University (the same school where he had attended night classes years earlier) and thereafter he answered to "Doctor Porsche" or "The Professor".

In 1931 he opened his own engineering business, and in 1934 he was approached by the Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler, who asked him to design the bubble-bodied "people's car" that became the Volkswagen Type 1, now commonly called the Beetle or Bug. Charged with building a fuel-efficient and affordable car for the masses, Dr Porsche's design borrowed heavily from earlier work by other designers, but the original Beetle is usually credited to Porsche. He began building Volkswagen prototypes in 1937, but when Hitler's armies invaded Poland the factory was converted to building military vehicles, after only a few dozen VWs had been constructed. Porsche was deeply involved in the design of Nazi Germany's Tiger I, Tiger II, Panzer and Elefant military tanks, and his factories used forced labor. After the war he was imprisoned for twenty months in an allied prison for his support of the Nazi regime.

When Volkswagens went into mass-production in 1945, the factory was managed by occupation forces from England, and neither Porsche nor his company was directly involved. He was freed in August 1947, and in 1948 his company began manufacturing the Porsche 356. Designed by Porsche's son Ferry but largely modeled on his father's original Beetle, early 356s were hand-built, and were the first cars bearing the Porsche nameplate. Porsche suffered poor health during and after his imprisonment, and died in 1951 after a series of strokes.

Father: Anton Porsche (tinsmith/plumber)
Wife: Aloisia Johanna Kaes Porsche (m. 1903)
Daughter: Louisa Porsche Piëch (b. 29-Aug-1904, d. 10-Feb-1999)
Son: Ferry Porsche (Porsche executive, b. 19-Sep-1909, d. 27-Mar-1998)

    High School: State Industrial School, Liberec, Czech Republic
    University: Vienna Technical University (attended)

    Porsche Founder and President (1931-51)
    Steyr Motors Engineer (1929-31)
    Daimler-Benz AG Engineer (1923-29)
    Austro-Daimler Chief Engineer (1905-23)
    Lohner Automotive Engineer (1898-1905)
    Stroke Nov-1950
    Stroke Jan-1951
    Naturalized French Citizen 1919
    Naturalized German Citizen 1935
    Naturalized Austrian Citizen 1939
    German Ancestry

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