Driving Stuttgart's Amidships Offerings At Laguna Seca
As an automaker's identity evolves over years, its signature becomes defined by any number of factors – heritage (Mercedes-Benz
), image (Lamborghini
), or market share (Toyota
). In the case of Porsche
, it was an engineering quirk that forged the German company's most enduring character trait.
Porsche would not have survived – let alone, thrived – in today's saturated landscape had it not been for the 911
, and that slope-tailed sports car wouldn't have sprung to life without its predecessor, the 356. While phenomenal success of those rear-engine icons built the company, forays into the mid-engine configuration have played a significant part in establishing the brand's identity.
The Mid-Engine Prototype Of Ferry Porsche's Dreams
Ferry Porsche couldn't find the sports car of his dreams, so he decided to build it himself.
Dr. Ferdinand "Ferry" Porsche once famously said that he couldn't find the sports car of his dreams, so he decided to build it himself. The product of that desire (and the first car he created) was the 356/1, a mid-engine, two-seat roadster prototype that exploited the obvious benefits of having the motor in the middle – mass centralization, a lower polar moment of inertia and balanced weight distribution.
One could say that the mid-engine layout was in Ferry's blood. His father was company founder Dr. Ing. Ferdinand Porsche, who collaborated on the fearsome mid-engine V12 and V16-powered Auto Union
racecars. But following the 356/1, Ferry soon realized that his dream car's impractical layout might hamper its commercial success. Taking real world realities like rear seats, interior volume, and storage capacity into consideration, he moved the engine behind the rear axle with the 356/2 Gmünd coupe in 1948, which was followed by nearly two decades of 356s that culminated in 1965. The bubble-shaped 356 established the Porsche mystique and laid the groundwork for the car that would become the brand's calling card.