When you think Porsche, you think luxury — but you may also picture the unique Porsche emblem, complete with antlers and a stallion. The emblem, like Porsche itself, boasts a fascinating history. Read on to learn more about the Porsche symbol’s background, and why this unique logo remains so significant for the luxury vehicle manufacturer.
Brief History of the Porsche Emblem
Porsche — And Stuttgart’s — Origins
Czech engineer, Ferdinand Porsche, founded Porsche Automobil Holding SE in 1931. He decided to base his company’s headquarters in Stuttgart (where they remain to this day). Stuttgart first became a city 1,000 years earlier. Before this, the area served as a stud farm, or in today’s terminology, grounds for horse breeding. Stud garden translated to German is ‘Stutt Garten,’ which, over time, became Stuttgart. The Stuttgart coat of arms thus, featured a horse already, during the 13th century, but did not arrive at its current version until 1938.
Long after Stuttgart received its current name — but a few years before Ferdinand Porsche began to manufacture vehicles — the monarchy, known as the Kingdom of Württemberg, transformed into a democratic republic called the Free People’s State of Württemberg. The capital of this new republic? It’s Stuttgart. A new coat of arms soon followed, combining elements of both the traditional Württemberg and Stuttgart iconography.
To begin, Porsche did not use a special symbol on its cars. Instead, the company simply marked its vehicles with its name. During the 1950s, however, the vehicle manufacturer began to display a distinctive symbol, depicting a stallion and antlers. The horse was intended, not only to reflect the importance of a significant industry in Stuttgart, but also to highlight the very nature of the Porsche company. Like the stallion, Porsche cars are both wild and beautiful. Both creature and car inspire awe in all who witness them.
Since its debut, Porsche’s logo has become an integral component of its enduring legacy. The emblem features elements of both the Stuttgart and Württemberg coats of arms, with the center especially reflecting images associated with Württemberg. Historians may agree that the emblem’s creator drew inspiration from the Württemberg’s region and its traditional symbols, but they disagree as to how these images ultimately came to be associated with Porsche.
The American Origin Story
One particularly memorable version of the Porsche emblem origin story contends that Ferdinand Porsche’s son, Ferry, met up with American Porsche distributor, Max Hoffman, in 1951. The two agreed to meet at a New York restaurant to discuss important matters. Hoffman insisted that the vehicle needed a compelling emblem, which Ferry proceeded to sketch on a napkin. He then brought his design back to Germany, and had it perfected before it appeared on the company’s sophisticated vehicles. This romanticized version of the emblem’s creation has drawn significant criticism from skeptical individuals, who believe that the tale does not give due credit to the real geniuses behind the logo.
The German Origin Story
According to German lore, Ferdinand Porsche requested that engineer Franz Xaver Reimspiess develop an enduring emblem. Based on this version of the story, no napkin encounter ever occurred. No matter how the emblem came about, however, it’s clear that the goal was to tie Porsche to its roots in Germany, while still expressing the aggressive manner in which the brand intended to attack the competitive automobile market.
The Emblem’s First Appearances
Whether or not a napkin played an important role in the development of the Porsche emblem, the symbol first appeared on the vehicle’s horn button in 1953. This was simply an alteration to a previous model, however. Soon after, the emblem made it’s debut on the 356 Coupe. Beginning in 1958, Porsche offered the option to include the emblem on the wheel hubcaps for the 356 A. Since then, only a few small changes have been made to the symbol, mostly in the interest of polishing its look. Porsche continues to provide handcrafted crests, created in the Germany community it aims to honor.
Learn more about Porsche’s history in this documentary from Porsche:
Porsche boasts a fascinating history. The vehicle manufacturer’s emblem reflects this rich background, drawing heavily on regional symbols to highlight Porsche’s importance in Stuttgart, and the greater Württemberg region. Keep an eye out for this distinctive logo; it highlights the need to honor your heritage while still looking forward to the future.
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