Ferdinand Porsche was an innovator/inventor from the early 1900s who developed everything from airplane engines to wind powered generators. In 1901 he designed and drove a gas/electric Hybrid to a record setting win at the Exelberg Hillclimb, and from 1931 through 1939 Porsche’s mid-engine Auto Union Silver Arrows would prove to be some of the best supercars the world had ever seen, dominating races and setting world speed records.
Although the roots of Porsche lie in Austria and Germany, fascination with this marque is worldwide, in large part because the company behind these beautiful machines has stayed true to the vision of its founders Ferdinand Porsche and his son Ferdinand “Ferry” Porsche, who first set up shop in 1948 with 200 workers to produce the first Porsche 356s.
These first Porsches quickly made their mark with agile handling, as well as attributes almost unknown among sportscars of the day: comfort and reliability. This was despite the fact the cars were sporting just 40 horsepower from a rear-mounted, slightly souped-up Volkswagen Beetle engine. (The senior Porsche, as an independent designer/engineer, had designed the VW Beetle for the German government in 1931.) Porsche introduced its own engines in the mid-1950s, along with more powerful versions of the Porsche 356. Ferry Porsche helped grow the new company from its 1948 356 roots and was instrumental in designing the first iconic modern Porsche 911 in 1963.
Porsche cars have always had their roots in racing. They began in 1951 when a Porsche 356 SL competition car finished first in its class at Le Mans and set a new class record that had stood since 1939. With that maiden win at Le Mans, Porsche began a string of victories that continues to this day. As of this writing Porsche is the winningest marque in Le Mans history, with 19 overall Le Mans victories and 108 class victories.
Starting with a 1956 Porsche 356a Speedster, the Museum’s collection includes an example of every Speedster produced to date. The Speedster was redesigned in 1989, 1994, 2011 and 2019. (The 2019 Speedster is a “Speedster Heritage,” which sports the Porsche team livery of the original race cars of the 1950s.)
After the 356 came a true legend among modern automobiles, the Porsche 911. Ahead of its time when introduced in 1964, the rear-engine 911 evolved over three decades when Porsche introduced a completely new 911 Carrera for 1999. The Museum has numerous 911-based Porsches, including RS variants as well as special supercars: the 918, the Carrera GT and the 959.
Throughout the years, Porsche has continued to produce cutting edge race and road cars with performance, comfort, and style.
As a tribute to this wonderful marque, the Newport Car Museum has converted its former event space into a permanent Porsche gallery.