First-ever Porsche headed home to company museum

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About 30 years before Ferdinand Porsche designed the Volkswagen Beetle, he created the Egger-Lohner electric vehicle, C.2 Phaeton model – or simply, the P1 – you see above. This was the first vehicle created by Porsche, and the car gets its nickname from the fact that he had stamped "P1" on many of the parts marking it as the first Porsche... sorry, 356 No. 1.

Now while you'd think that such an important piece of Porsche heritage has been in a museum or even the automaker's not-so-secret lair, it has actually been sitting at a warehouse for the last 112 years. Thankfully, that's all about to change as Porsche has recovered P1, and the car will soon be on "permanent display" at the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart.

The P1 has a 3 horsepower motor capable of delivering a top speed of 21 miles per hour and a driving range of 49 miles, and, like many vehicles in Porsche's history, the motor is positioned at the rear of the vehicle. According to the press release posted below, the P1 finished first in a 24-mile electric vehicle race in Berlin in 1899, but it has been sitting since 1902.
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Atlanta. The first Porsche branded design was the Type 356 in the year 1948, but the very first vehicle designed by Ferdinand Porsche dates back to 1898 with the "Egger-Lohner electric vehicle, C.2 Phaeton model", known as the "P1" for short. After 115 years, the original and unrestored "P1" has been recovered from a warehouse and untouched since 1902. It will be on permanent display at the Porsche Museum, which is celebrating its fifth anniversary.

Designed and built by 22-year old Ferdinand Porsche, the "P1" took to the streets of Vienna, Austria, on June 26, 1898. Young Ferdinand had engraved the code "P1" (standing for Porsche, number one) onto all of the key components, thus giving the electric vehicle its unofficial name. The highly compact rear mounted electric drive weighs 287 lbs. and produces 3 hp. For short periods, up to 5 hp could be achieved in overdrive mode allowing the P1 to reach speeds up to 21 mph. The vehicle speed was regulated via a 12-speed control unit and the overall range of the 2,977 lb. vehicle could span up to 49 miles. Another innovation was the Lohner alternating vehicle body, which was mounted on the wooden "chassis" and allowed the vehicle to be a coupe style or an open Phaeton design.

First testing of the "P1" was completed in September 1899 at the international motor vehicle exhibition in the German capital of Berlin. An all-electric vehicle race over a distance of 24 miles was announced in Berlin for September 28. With three passengers onboard, Ferdinand Porsche steered his "P1" across the finish line 18 minutes ahead of the next competitor. More than half the participants failed to finish due to technical problems. Ferdinand also came out on top in the efficiency competition, as the "P1" recorded the least amount of energy consumed.

Five years since the opening of the Porsche Museum in January 2009, the addition of the "P1" will be the centerpiece that introduces visitors to the first part of the newly structured product and motorsport history exhibition. It will bridge the gap between the past and present-day developments such as the Porsche 918 Spyder. The 918 Spyder follows the long tradition to be a technological benchmark that first started 115 years ago with the "P1".

The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday, 9:00 to 18:00. For more information, please visit

Technical Data "Egger-Lohner C.2 electric vehicle"
Model year: 1898
Wheelbase: 1600 mm
Gross weight: 2,977 lbs.
Battery weight: 1,103 lbs.
Motor weight: 287 lbs.
Units: approximately four units built
Octagon electric motor with differential gear
Motor shaft pinion (phosphor bronze) engages with the system of gears rings on internally toothed wheel hubs (cast steel)
Continuous power of 3 hp; can be overloaded to 5 hp (40–80 volts)
"Tudor system" 44-cell accumulator battery; 120 amp hours
Stub axle front wheel steering
Rear wheel drive with differential gear (with a transmission ratio of 1:6.5)
Mechanical band brake and electrical short circuit brake
Wooden wheels with pneumatic tires
Cruise control: 12-speed controller
Top speed: 21 mph
Travelling speed: 15 mph
Driving time: 3–5 hours
Range: approx. 49 miles

Porsche Information

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