The Porsche Crest
A lot has been written about the Porsche crest and its origin already, so does the (Porsche) world really need yet another article on this topic? I am not sure myself, but certainly hope you find a few interesting facts (or links) you didn’t know of before. And here is a quick exercise to get you started: Try to draw the logo from memory – no peaking! You have seen it a million times so that should be easy, right?
Truth be told, I wanted to research this topic for quite some time and was reminded again during the GGR’s 60th anniversary celebration which took place over zoom. A few participants had started to exchange chat messages about the Porsche logo, also asking how it may be related to one by an Italian car maker which features a prancing horse as well. Let’s get the latter out the way first – this video shares the story as told by Enzo himself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9YVRBiGDu4&feature=youtu.be
Now, onto the main topic of my second blog: Searching the Internet for “Porsche crest”, “Porsche logo”, etc. will bring up many useful links. For a concise summary of important facts, I like this site:
It captures nicely what the logo represents – basically an amalgamation of different historic coats of arms which played a big role in Porsche’s history. In short, the prancing horse is based on the coat of arms for the City of Stuttgart, which is where Ferdinand Porsche founded his first engineering company in 1931, and the coat of arms for the former State of Wuerttemberg-Hohenzollern, which would later merge into what today is known as the State of Baden-Wuerttemberg with Stuttgart as its capital.
The name “Stuttgart” is derived from “Stutt Garten”, or stud garden. Stuttgart was founded on a horse farm back in 950! (On a personal note, it also happens to be my place of birth.)
Add “PORSCHE” on top of the combined logo and you are close to what it looks like today!
The “Formula”: Stuttgart crest + Wuerttemberg crest + Porsche name = Porsche crest
+ + Porsche =
Of course, the article also references the decisive event which led to the creation of the Porsche logo in the first place. It was Max Hoffman, the most influential US importer of European cars at the time, who “suggested” not only a less expensive entry level model car for the US market (the 356 Speedster), but also, during a meeting in 1951 or 1952, that Porsche needed a stand-out logo just like other car manufacturers had. Since the introduction of the 356, the first Porsche-branded cars carried the name Porsche using actual lettering. The newly designed crest was introduced on steering wheel hubs later in 1952 and on the front hood of all cars starting in November of 1954.
So far so good, but who actually designed the logo? Some sources suggest that it may have been Ferry Porsche himself. Apparently, he liked to sketch coats of arms as a boy.
Porsche.com offers this:
“To remove all ambiguity, the experts at Porsche Classic delved deep into the history of the crest, which was first suggested as a quality seal for the 356 at a meeting between Ferry Porsche and US importer Max Hoffman back in 1952. In the same year, advertising manager Herrmann Lapper and designer Xaver Reimspieß produced a preliminary design that is still used to this day with just a few minor differences in detail. Reimspieß, who is also said to have designed the Volkswagen logo in 1936, sketched a magnificent crest that symbolised the roots of the company as well as the dynamism and quality of its products. At the centre of the golden plate, the horse of the official Stuttgart coat of arms is depicted along with the name of the city. The composition is surrounded by the red and black state colours and the stylised antlers from the crest of Württemberg-Hohenzollern. The all-encompassing Porsche logo acts as a protective “roof” over all the design elements.”
https://www.porsche.com/international/accessoriesandservice/classic/genuineparts/producthighlights/crest/ (Tip: watch the short video showing how crests are manufactured today)
Note that the suggested meeting date of 1952 likely contradicts with other events and sources that will be explained later. Also, while Herr Reimspiess clearly had a passion and talent for design, he was an engineer by education.
His English Wikipedia page is brief – interestingly enough it does not mention the Porsche logo but credits him for the design of another famous one:
“His most well-known invention had however little to do with technology. Reimspiess was the designer of the Volkswagen logo. For this idea he received a one-off payment of one hundred Reichmarks”.
The German Wikipedia entry doesn’t offer a lot more information either but reveals that his son Peter was a designer by trade and became a Professor of Design after working at … Porsche … for several years. Maybe the Porsche people got father and son’s occupation confused (not a big deal).
At this point it is relatively safe to say that Mr. Reimspiess was indeed the one who designed the famous crest. I would like to add one more anecdote to the story though. I only found one source for it so far, but it is a credible one – Karl Ludvigsen’s “Porsche – Excellence was expected. 2019 Edition”. In his book, Mr. Ludvigsen dedicates a short chapter of 4 pages to the origin of the crest. He adds that before Mr. Reimspiess was charted with the project, a design competition was launched in early 1951. An appeal went out to leading design academies across Germany and the winning team would be awarded DM (Deutsche Mark) 1,000 in cash.
According to the story, the idea for the competition came from family friend, Porsche enthusiast and art collector Ottomar Domnick. Dr. Domnick was a wealthy doctor with his own clinic in Stuttgart. He also happened to be the recipient of the very first 356 factory delivery ever. An occasion that clearly had to be celebrated with a bottle of champagne:
You are probably wondering what happened to the contest submissions? Well, results were displayed in Stuttgart’s Wuerttemberg State Gallery in early 1951, the top 3 entries were awarded the promised prize money, but Porsche executed their right to not use any of the submissions. The ultimate prize went to Franz Xaver Reimspiess!
Thanks for reading – bis bald!
Other sources and links:
www.Stuttgart.de – Happy Holidays