By on February 23, 2018

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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20 Comments on “QOTD: Does the Promise, ‘No Porsche Will Ever Be Created by a Committee’ Ring True?...”


  • avatar
    Sub-600

    It would seem, on the surface, that it doesn’t ring true because they make an CUV. On the other hand, you have to make an CUV. So a degree of “independence” is gone, out of necessity.

    • 0 avatar
      jeffzekas

      Years ago, I met a woman who worked for Porsche PR and she said, “I am so excited that we’re building an SUV! This is the best thing Porsche has ever done!” I said, “But Porsche is known as a SPORTS CAR company! Once they start building trucks, or toothbrushes, or anything not sporting, they will dilute the brand.” History seems to have proven this correct, though, financially, Porsche HAS survived, by building “non Porsche” products. In the end, most Porsche vehicles are bought by rich folks, who just want you to see the “Porsche” emblem on the hood. True enthusiasts buy Porsche cars built before 1998.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Survive or die. Porsche would have been Lotus had they stayed on the “pure” path.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’d personally rather see Porsche, Lotus, TVR, McLaren, et al. disappear over becoming a seller of mass-market crossovers with a token sports car business on the side.

    But I’m also not an employee or shareholder of those companies.

  • avatar
    tylanner

    Porsche automobile design is not the slightest bit derivative…only drawing from previous Porsche design language.

    They seems to harbor a deep hatred of gimmick and shun idea-generating-machine strategies at BMW/VW/Audi where the perspective of the consumer trumps tradition.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    I think it’s safe to say the 911 team still operates under that mission; the CUV’s aren’t “real Porsches” if you ask them and are a necessary evil to pay the bills.

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    Having a “singular vision” is an end goal, not a ways to a means. “No Committee” is a marketing phrase like “no compromise” or “authentic.” Nothing as sophisticated as a modern automobile is made without the input of multiple people.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    Though still rare, I certainly see more 4-door and CUV Porsches than the classic 911, Cayman, or Boxster. *sigh*

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I see bunches of Macans and Panameras all over the place.

      Cayenne popularity seems to have dropped off a lot since the first gen as I still see about as many of the original ones as the latest version.

      I see a handful of newer high-trim 911s each year, but very rarely a more “basic” one.

      Boxster and Cayman might as well be mythical for how often I notice one.

    • 0 avatar
      energetik9

      Where I live, it’s a pretty good mix. Notably, I see quite a few higher end 911’s (Turbo’s, GT3’s, GTS, and a few R’s). Lots of Panameras and more and more Panamera hybrids. Even a few Panamera Turbo S’s. As the weather has gotten better I see a lot of Boxsters now and some classic 911s.

  • avatar
    MrIcky

    As others have said, it’s a mix. As I understand it, at one point Porsche wanted to do away with the 911 and the 928 was their way forward. When they abandoned that and kept the 911 and eventually created the boxster twins, I have to say that they still have the ethos in their somewhere.

    It’s not just having a CUV though that takes away from their initial mission statement. I think you can have a CUV that is original in design and intent and not “designed by committee” even if it sells well. The problem here is that they have a shared platform CUV and that is the definition of designed by committee.

  • avatar

    i Personally like older body style i have 2012 GTS i and i love it

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    The crux of the issue, is Porsche a boutique auto maker or not? Same for Ferrari.

    SportyAccordy mentioned above: Survive or die. Porsche would have been Lotus had they stayed on the “pure” path.
    To my knowledge, Morgan has yet to produce a SUV. It is possible to keep with your original mission as a sports car maker.

    Ferrari, to me, is more branded merchandise than a car manufacturer anymore, smilier to HD. I would be curios of the break down in gross profit at a HD dealership between parts/service, bike sales, & merchandise/apparel sales.

    As soon as Porsche entered the SUV/CUV they ended the boutique sports car business as we know it for Ferrari and Lamborghini as they followed them in pursuit of ever increasing sales figures. Porsche and Lamborghini are using platforms designed by committee so to speak for other brands and modifying them to fit their needs.
    I guess I should be happy about these developments as once they master the SUV we will all be waiting patiently for the Road & Track review of the Porsche/Ferrari/Lamborghini line up of 1/2 ton pickups….

  • avatar
    nsk

    If Ferry’s goal was to create, “a small lightweight sports car that used power efficiently,” then the company has absolutely reached that goal. The GTx cars are those cars. And I don’t think Ferry would have minded that a committees came together to build those cars.

    It doesn’t matter that that the brand has been diluted by logo merchandise, CUVs, and marketers; the fact remains that Porsche makes fantastic driver’s cars. It’s a bonus that Panameras, Cayennes, and Macans are really good to drive.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    “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.”

    Isn’t that what a committee is, a handful of people who get to gather to make decisions?

    Either way it doesn’t matter much. They still make cars that are instantly understandable as Porsches. They also make CUV’s because that’s what people, including “Porsche people” now want to buy. The alternative is to shrink away to inconsequence. I’m not into SUV’s, but I’ve ridden in a friend’s Cayenne S and it’s damn nice. Another friend has a Panamera, and it’s fabulous too.

    (In her heart of hearts my wife still believes that about $12K is a reasonable amount to pay for a new car, so I doubt any of the above are in my future! I did push her as far as a $40K Golf R though.)

  • avatar
    Maymar

    Although I understand that a company needs to make money to survive, it’s a little infuriating that there’s over a $10k difference between an entry-level Macan, and the cheapest actual sports car.

  • avatar
    TW5

    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.

    • 0 avatar
      Tele Vision

      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.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    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.

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