From design engineer to entrepreneur

The Porsche design company undertook development work for all kinds of technical appliances, from wind turbines and other types of turbines to engines and new vehicle concepts for Wanderer and Zündapp. In 1933, Ferdinand Porsche designed the famous Auto Union 16-cylinder sports car for the only recently formed Auto-Union (from Audi, Horch, Wanderer and DKW). This car was a precursor to today's Formula One design principles -- a racing car that became one of the most successful of its time in motorsport.

The 'Volkswagen' is born

His most famous design, however, was the one for the Volkswagen. On 22 June 1934, Ferdinand Porsche secured the contract from the "RDA - Reichsverband der Deutschen Automobilindustrie" (Automobile Industry Association of the Reich) to develop the Volkswagen which would shape future developments at Porsche for years to come. The team of technicians from Porsche produced the first prototypes in the garage at Porsche's villa in Stuttgart. His son Ferry was in charge of test drives. Large-scale test drives first began in 1936 under the RDA's supervision.

Volkswagen manufactures military vehicles

In 1937, the German government appointed Ferdinand Porsche managing director for technology and planning at the company set up to build the Volkswagen ("people's car"). And on 26 May 1938, with the laying of the foundation stone for the Volkswagen factory, the Volkswagen itself became the "KdF (Kraft-durch-Freude, or "Strength through Pleasure") car". At the outbreak of the Second World War, production was converted over wartime needs: instead of a people's car for the everyman, the assembly line turned out military vehicles such as the amphibious "Schwimmwagen" and the so-called "Kübelwagen" (or "bucket" car). The drawing boards at Porsche Konstruktionen GesmbH in Stuttgart were filled with designs for tanks rather than race cars.