Sigh. How many of you have friends or worse, significant others (I mean, they might get to ride in it, right?) that struggle to say the name of your passion? You might get Porch, or Porchey, or Porcha, and once in a while, “Porsh”. Porsche is a German word that means “offering” and is actually a two-syllable word. Expecting German parents often choose the name Porsche for a baby when they want a gender-neutral name, or one not traditional. It is interesting, though, that all German automakers are referred to in the masculine (as in “der Porsche”), versus airplane makers whom are referred to in the feminine (“die Airbus”). Porsche AG finally had all they could take and made a Youtube video (that does not help much and has been viewed nearly 2.5 million times, proving my point) just to teach people how to say the name of their hugely popular sports car brand (even the SUVs are sports cars!). The correct pronunciation for your dream car company is “Porsh-shuh”. And if any of the know-it-alls want to correct you, tell them to go buy their own.
Well, that’s great you say, but where did they get the name to start with? From the proud dad. Porsche was named for the design engineer who founded the company, Ferdinand Porsche, in 1931. Ferdinand, or “Butzi” as he was known to his friends, originally started the company as an engineering firm that provided consulting to the automotive industry. It was in business for many years before the first production line Porsche, the 356. (The first ever Porsche was actually built in 1898! More on that in another article.) Butzi was a whiz at auto engineering, and most people do not know he was cornerstone in the design and development of “the People’s Car” – the Volkswagen Beetle, after many years of independent consulting for Daimler-Benz. If you look not-so-close you can see some remote similarities in the design lines. Butzi wanted to do his own thing, and working with his son Ferdinand (“Ferry” to his buddies) they produced their first car under the Porsche company name in 1948, the “P-1” proto-type Porsche 356. Polly Porschette thinks that even if he had named it “the Butzi” it would have stood the test of time, but Porsche sort of rolls off the tongue, you know? Besides, with those cars to his name, he deserves to be called Dr. Butzi, I mean Porsche, after all. We 911 aficionados owe him and Ferry a lot.
Anyhow, the company we refer to as Porsche is actually the “Dr. Ing. h.c.F. Porsche AG.” Kind of long and doesn’t make a lot of sense until you know it has to do with the full name and title of the founder, Ferdinand Butzi Porsche. “Dr.” is just that, as Butzi was a doctor, albeit honorary. (When you see his accomplishments, he earned the title, trust me. The man and his progeny were geniuses.) “Ing. h.c.” makes a lot more sense translated from “Ingenieur honoris causa” which means “Engineer honorary degree.” The “f”? You guessed it, Ferdinand. Put it all together and you have a Doctor of Engineering. The tough part is the “AG”. Let Polly get a big breathe – it stands for “Aktiengesellschaft,” (which is pronounced pretty close to how it is spelled) which means “shares company.” It is a stockholder share held company. Porsche has long been known for running a highly profitable company while building their high performance, racetrack dominating cars. Before you run to call your broker, though, note that Porsche Automobil Holding SE is not the same as Dr. Ing. h.c.F. Porsche AG. PAH-SE is a holding company formed in 2007 that has a lion’s share of publicly traded Volkswagen stock, and that you can get in on.
Two little known facts about Dr. Porsche – he was not German. He was born in Bohemia, in territory later controlled by Austria-Hungary, then later by Germany. He showed a high mechanical aptitude at a very young age, and at 18 started to work for a Vienna electrical company. He would sneak into the university at night to learn what he could about engineering, but had no formal education beyond those classes. Some people, and some cars, like his 911, just “got it”, you know?