Over the years, Porsche has provided a great sports car history.
Long term planning, relentless engineering, and consistent incremental
improvements have been the company’s mainstays.
The Porsche badge is almost redundant on the iconic 911 as the
sports car’s shape makes it one of the most easily recognizable cars
If you take away the badge, you would be removing something that
is indeed much deeper than just labeling. The badge reminds and
reinforces that you are driving a car engineered and built by one of
the world’s most respected automotive manufacturers. Additionally,
it tells others that you have an impeccable taste in automobiles. If a
badge of an icon can do so much, how did it come about?
The initial Porsches – the early 356s from 1948 onward did not
have the now famous badge at all but just the word “Porsche”
put across the bonnet in extended capital letters – something that
is part of the company’s brand today!
However, in 1952, the U.S. importer Max Hoffman talked to
Ferry Porsche during lunch that possibly the 356 could use a
proper badge like the other car manufacturers had. The story
is that Ferry Porsche quickly sketched out the design on a napkin
and Hoffman gave it his thumbs up!
Porsche 911 Celebration of a Legend Magazine reports, “Ferry
Porsche said that he used to enjoy drawing coats of arms as a child,
so it was inevitable that he should turn to heraldry for inspiration.
The background of the badge is the crest of Baden Wurttemburg,
the German federal state that Porsche is based in. The distinctive
black and red stripes are paired with representations of stag horns.”
The magazine goes on to say, “Laid over this is the simpler Stuttgart
coat of arms, with the city’s name above it. The word comes from
Stout garten – stud garden or, in modern parlance, stud farm. Horses
had been bred in that area for around 1,000 years and that’s why the
crest shows a rampant horse at its center, There is, apparently, an
heraldic link between this horse and the famous (and remarkably
similar) ‘prancing horse’ which adorns Ferraris and was once the
coat of arms of Francesco Baracca, a First World War pilot, curved
right across the top of the badge is the word ‘Porsche’ in bold capitals.”
Prior to the badge being used on Porsches, the company had to get
approval by the relevant city and state authorities. Once such approval
was obtained, the badge appeared on the 356s in 1953. At this time,
however, the badge was placed only on the steering wheel hub as the
bonnet continued to have the ‘Porsche’ lettering. The next year,
the badge was placed proudly on the chrome grab handle located on
the bonnet (hood).
When the 911 arrived in 1963, the enameled badge was put on the new
car’s bonnet where it has remained ever since. The badge has undergone
some minor tweaking over the years. In 1995 the ‘Porsche’ lettering
was made thinner and it was made black to better stand out from the gold
background (previously the ‘Porsche’ lettering was gold on the gold
background). Additionally, the badge was slightly tweaked to give it
a more modern appearance.
From the beginning, 911s have had the Porsche crest on the steering
wheel hub. However, this proud symbol was lost in 1984 when the
3.2 Carrera received a four-spoke steering wheel with the word
‘Porsche’ stamped across it. Happily, the badge returned to the
steering wheel with the 993 model in 1993. The 996’s three spoke
steering wheel gained a full color gold and red badge – an attractive
feature that continues on the most recent 997 cars.
So the next time you happen to see the ‘Porsche’ badge, you know its
full bodied story that is over 50 years old. It is another of Ferry Porsche’s
designs that proudly has stood the test of time!
Kyle Busch is the author of “Drive the Best for the Price…” He
welcomes your comments or car questions at his auto web site: