With its overall weight of less than 600 kilograms, the compact race car had an outstanding power-to-weight ratio. This made Sascha ideally suited to curvy races, such as the renowned Targa Florio in Sicily. Four Sascha cars from the Austro-Daimler factory team entered the race in 1922, and 432 kilometers later posted an exciting one-two finish in the 1.1-liter class. These highly efficient cars left half of the entire field in their dust, including race cars with over seven liters of displacement.
Porsche proved again in 1947 that powerful engine performance does not necessarily require a big engine. This time it was Ferry Porsche who accomplished new feats with the development of the Cisitalia 360, an elegant sports car that was built for an Italian businessman. And like the Sascha before it, the Cisitalia race car was far ahead of its time. Because the Grand Prix regulations restricted the displacement for supercharged engines to 1.5 liters, the Porsche developers utilized every trick in the engineering book. The result was a water-cooled, twelve-cylinder engine with a compressor whose four camshafts were, as in the Sascha, powered by vertical shafts. The 385 hp of engine power delivered at 10,600 rpm was distributed to all four drive wheels through a sequential transmission. With the 356 too, developed in parallel with the Cisitalia, Porsche continued to pursue the path of efficiency. The first sports-car model line developed for Porsche itself was produced with a small 1.1-liter four-cylinder boxer engine from 1948 to 1954. Displacement was increased in small steps to 1,300 and 1,500 cc, and ultimately to 1,600 cc in 1955. Not least due to the efforts of dedicated private drivers, the Porsche 356 became the dominant vehicle of its era in the small-engine classes. Porsche itself entered the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a factory team for the first time in 1951. The 1,100 cc engine of the 356 SL (super light) put out just under 46 hp. Thanks to aerodynamic cladding and a long gear ratio, the Porsche 356 with starting number 46 posted a top speed of 160 km/h, and the racing world took notice. Against strong competition, the Gran Turismo from Zuffenhausen took the class victory and placed an impressive 20th in the overall classification, marking the first big international victory for the young Porsche brand.