A Porsche does not really need a government roadworthiness sticker, its seal of quality gleams resplendent on the bonnet. And since 1952, every Porsche has been duly armed with this logo.
The possible variations were countless, the risk of getting something wrong was huge. But lo and behold, the result turned out to everyone’s advantage. At the start of the 1950s, Professor Ferdinand Porsche, his son Ferry and their trusted circle set about developing a company emblem that they intended both to refer to their location in Stuttgart and to have a dynamic, powerful image.
After numerous drafts were produced, including several from the pen of Porsche engineer Franz Xaver Reimspieß, a crest was finally created that has long since become the company’s trademark all over the globe. The emblem was initially put together out of elements from the history of Württemberg-Baden, as the political region was still called at that time: Stylised antlers and the state colours of red and black. This was intended as a clear commitment to Swabia, the Porsche family’s second home.
The centre of the crest shows a black horse rampant, an expression both of forward thrusting power and a derivation of the city seal. For Stuttgart, established in 950 as the stud farm of ‘stuotgarten’, has had horses in its coat of arms in varying designs since the 14th century. Through the use of the steed and the word ‘Stuttgart’, the team at Porsche were giving a clear sign of the bond they felt with the town in which they were based. The crest has the outer contours of a shield, while the word Porsche as the overarching signature, the roof over the whole, as it were, crowns the highly effective composition.
Admittedly there were some teething problems – tough negotiations with the local authority, made all the more delicate as they had to give their ‘OK’. In the end, however, the city custodians overcame their concerns in light of the crest’s strong allegiance to the company’s home.
And thus in 1952, the 356 bore the characteristic shield for the first time. It appeared on the horn in the middle of the steering wheel – something, however, that Professor Ferdinand Porsche, who died on 30th January 1951, was not to witness. By the end of 1955, the crest was also to be seen on the bonnet of the 356, integrated into the handle. And while the handle no longer exists, the crest on the bonnet has remained. From 1959, the wheel-caps also featured the horse, the antlers and the unique wording – maybe because this enabled passers-by to recognise the sports car from the side as well! And the company has kept to this limited but well-placed distribution of the crest to this day.
There has never been any reason to contemplate changing the Porsche crest’s symbolic and powerful design and thus to risk modernising it to death. Although the lettering has been slightly trimmed and the horse’s contours smoothed over time for printed versions, brochures and correspondence, for Porsche fans, however, in Germany and around the world, who associate the sports car in iconic fashion with this image, nothing has changed for 50 years.
Text: Thomas Schulz
Source: Christophorus, 295