Dr. Ferdinand Porsche
Dr. Ferdinand Porsche (1875-1951) developed this inexpensive rear-engine small car called the Type 32, or Kleinauto, for the NSU Company in Germany in 1932. It was based on an original small car prototype Porsche had developed, but never produced in 1931 for the Zündapp Works, a motorcycle firm. Porsche had just in 1931 opened his own automotive design firm with his son, Ferdinand "Ferry" Porsche II (b. 1909) , but already had a long and distinguished career of innovative design. Born in Austria, he was hired in 1898 as a designer by Ludwig Lohner, owner of a carriage factory in Vienna, who wanted to produce an electric car and was interested in Porsche's idea of placing the electric motors directly inside the wheel hub, thus eliminating chain and belt drives. The resulting car was the Porsche-Lohner Chaise, which won a grand prize at the Universal Exposition in Paris in 1900, and made Porsche famous. In 1903, Porsche combined a gasoline engine with an electric motor in what he called a "Mixt" car for Lohner. The engine powered a generator which fed electricity to the motors in the wheels. Nicknamed "Aunt Eulalia", the car was a hit with celebrities like Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand. In 1906, Porsche became an engineer for Austro-Daimler as a technical director and board member, and joined Daimler in Germany in 1923 where he remained until he was dismissed, when Daimler merged with Benz Cie in 1926. In 1929 he took a key position with Steyr Works in Vienna, but the company soon collapsed financially. Three of his NSU small car prototypes were built in 1933, and they were refined, through a commission by Adolph Hitler, into three VW 3 prototypes in 1936, which were successfully tested by the Nazi SS. Hitler's specifications included a cost of DM990 (US $396), a speed of 100 kph (60 mph), and 40 mpg fuel consumption.