QOTD: Does the Promise, 'No Porsche Will Ever Be Created by a Committee' Ring True?

Ronnie Schreiber
by Ronnie Schreiber
qotd does the promise 8216 no porsche will ever be created by a committee ring

People tend to associate (and with good reason, because he was a founder) the Porsche company with Dr. Ferdinand Porsche. However, the first Porsche car did not spring from the Dr. Eng. Porsche’s fertile mind, but rather from that of his namesake and son, Ferdinand Anton Ernst Porsche, known as Ferry. It was he who created the 356 model that established — permanently, it seems — the paradigm for Porsche sports cars that continues through today in the latest iteration of the 911 (itself designed by Ferry’s son, Butzi).

In 1998, for the 50th anniversary of Porsche’s beginnings as a car maker (the design firm was founded in 1931 with Adolph Rosenberger and Ernst Piech, the senior Porsche’s son in law, but the first Porsche branded car appeared in 1948), and apparently just prior to Ferry Porsche’s passing, he appeared in a commercial conveying his view of the Porsche company’s mission statement.

There is wisdom in his words that anyone in business should heed.

The transcript is below. The ad is titled “Independence” and in it Ferry Porsche emphasizes the importance of being a small, independent automaker that will never create a car “by committee”.

Committees are, by nature, timid. Based on the premise of safety in numbers, content to survive, rather than take risks and move independentaly ahead.

Independence, then, has always been the attitude at Porsche. To do not what is expected but what we feel is right. In the beginning I looked around and could not find quite the car I dreamed of: a small lightweight sports car that used power efficiently, so I decided to build it myself.

It is said, I believe, that so many creations today, are just like all the rest. This is why Porsche must remain small and independent.

Without independence, without the freedom to try new ideas, the world will not move ahead, but live in fear of its own potential.

Committees lead to creations that have no soul, no clear identity. This is why no Porsche will ever be created by a committee, but by a handful of people within these walls that know what a Porsche is.

I have a feeling that Ferry’s ernest beliefs are more honored in the breach than in their observance by Porsche today. Rather than being independent, the sports car maker is part of the huge Volkswagen conglomerate, and most of its sales and profits come from the Cayenne and Macan CUVs, far cries from the small, efficiently powered, lightweight sports car that Ferry prized. I’m also quite sure that no Porsche car today gets to production without approval by more than one committee.

How much do you think the current Porsche company lives up to its founder’s goals?

[Image: Porsche]

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3 of 20 comments
  • TW5 TW5 on Feb 23, 2018

    Porsche 912? That is the result of bold risk-taking? Porsche makes incredible machines, but they are as prone to corporate groupthink as every other automobile company. Once upon a time Porsche was the company that cross-drilled the ignition key to keep weight down (why not?). That was the level of Porsche's obsession. Now they have a lame keyless entry and all of the unreliable luxury gadgets and gizmos as everyone else. They spend as much time trying to get the "bank vault" door sound as they spend trying to make the car more compelling to drive. Worse, Porsche chooses cowardice when they design vehicles to interact with machines and software rather than human beings. I understand the impulse. The driver is a constraint because he is not as powerful or as consistent or as durable as machine control; therefore, overboost every human control, add PDK semi-auto gearbox, and automate everything from top removal to window actuation. When Porsche's collective conscience compels them to curtail their evil impulses just a little bit, the 911R is born. Naturally, the 911R generates so much buzz and euphoria that the car is basically a phantom vehicle locked away in collectors' garages. The 911R isn't particularly lightweight or analog. It is merely a symbol of the car company that once was. Porsche knows they are underserving their core customer and making a mockery of their brand, yet they continue to suppress real drivers cars and sportscars to build more overwrought GT's and SUV's. Why? Because what would the Queen of England think if she stuck her head in a Porsche 911 and saw a bare-bones, uncomfortable Alcantara interior with wall to wall manual controls, and no infotainment. My God!! She'd think Porsche had lost its touch! The oblivious plutocracy must never lose faith in Porsche. Real Porsches must be locked away in collector's garages never to be seen by the public.

    • Tele Vision Tele Vision on Feb 23, 2018

      Well put. My only Porsche was an '84 944. It could only just get out of its own way; the rubber 'spoiler' could hold two gallons of water or ice; the sunroof would pop open at speed with a window down; and fifth gear was so tall so as to be unusable unless selected at 140 Km/h - which was about 5000 RPM in fourth gear. That said, hooning around a few favourite corners in second or third gears would reliably reaffirm my love for that car. It wasn't a 911 but, man, what a great driver's car.

  • Stingray65 Stingray65 on Feb 23, 2018

    Let see - in 1948 the create the 356 rear engine melted Beetle sports car which is built with slight modification until 1965. In 1963 they introduce the 911 rear engine melted Beetle sports car that remains in production today with some major revisions, but still following the same styling and engineering mold of the 356 and first 911. In the late 60s to late 70s they introduce the 914 and 924 that are actually designed to be VWs, and the 928 that is a German Corvette (i.e. more solidly constructed, but way less reliable), but none of these models ever get accepted as true Porsches. The Boxster arrives in the 1997 as a cross between the 914 (mid-engined chassis) and 911 (styling and boxer six), with a roofed Cayman version added later. In 2003 the Cayenne SUV is added, about 3 to 6 years after MB, Lincoln, Cadillac, and BMW have introduced luxury SUVs. In 2014 the Macon SUV is added, 6-18 years after Acura, BMW, Audi, Lexus, MB have introduced near-luxury SUVs. So where is the risk taking? Where is the innovation? Hard to see how a committee could be more conservative as Porsche history is generally very conservative with "new" designs that are generally minor derivatives of earlier designs, and all their new category stuff coming only after the segment is already well established by competitors.

  • SCE to AUX Probably couldn't afford it - happens all the time.
  • MaintenanceCosts An ugly-a$s Challenger with poor equipment choices and an ugly Dealership Default color combination, not even a manual to redeem it, still no sale.
  • Cha65689852 To drive a car, you need human intelligence, not artificial intelligence.Unfortunately, these days even human brains are turning into mush thanks to addiction to smartphones and social media.
  • Mike1041 A nasty uncomfortable little car. Test drove in 2019 in a search for a single car that would appease two drivers. The compromise was not much better but at least it had decent rear vision and cargo capacity. The 2019 Honda HRV simply was too unforgiving and we ditched after 4 years. Enter the 23 HRV and we have a comfy size.
  • SCE to AUX I wonder who really cares about this. "Slave labor" is a useful term for the agendas of both right and left."UAW Wants Auto Industry to Stop Using Slave Labor"... but what will the UAW actually do if nothing changes?With unrelenting downward pressure on costs in every industry - coupled with labor shortages - expect to see more of this.Perhaps it's my fault when I choose the $259 cell phone over the $299 model, or the cheaper parts at RockAuto, or the lower-priced jacket at the store.Do I care about an ethical supply chain? Not really, I just want the product to work - and that's how most consumers are. We'd rather not know.Perhaps the 1990s notion of conflict-free, blood-free, ethically-sourced diamonds will find its way into the auto industry. That would be a good thing.