The first automobile designed by Ferdinand Porsche when he was 22 years old was nothing like the iconic sports cars most associated with his name. His initial vehicle, branded by the young inventor as P1 to designate his No. 1 design, was an electric carriage that debuted on the streets of Vienna, Austria, on June 26, 1898.
The P1 was recently recovered from a warehouse where it had been untouched since 1902. On Friday, January 31, it will be unveiled in original condition at the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, Germany, where it will be put on permanent display.
Officially named the Egger-Lohner electric C.2 vehicle, the car was designed and built by Porsche as a vehicle powered by a compact electric motor ranging from 3 and 5 horsepower that could reach speeds as fast as 21 mph. Porsche used an innovative Lohner alternating vehicle body system that allowed a coupe-style or open Phaeton design to be mounted on the wooden chassis.
Speed was regulated by a 12-speed control unit, and the range was approximately 49 miles between recharges of its 44-cell battery.
The P1 marked not only the first car for Ferdinand Porsche, but his first racing victory. A 24-mile race for electric vehicles was announced in Berlin in conjunction with an international motor-vehicle exhibition in September 1899. Porsche, racing the P1 with three passengers on board, crossed the finish line 18 minutes ahead of the next competitor. More than half of the cars failed to finish due to technical problems.
The P1 also won the efficiency competition, recording the least amount of energy consumed during the race.
The unveiling of the P1 will be hosted by Dr. Wolfgang Porsche, chairman of the supervisory board of Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG, Stuttgart, and by Matthias Müller, president and CEO of Porsche AG, with an audience of invited guests. The following weekend, February 1-2, the P1 can be viewed free of charge as part of the celebrations to mark the fifth anniversary of the Porsche Museum.
For more information about the Porsche Museum, see www.porsche.com/museum.
Technical Data, Egger-Lohner C.2 electric vehicle
Model year: 1898
Wheelbase: 63 inches
Gross weight: 2,977 pounds
Battery weight: 1,103 pounds
Motor weight: 287 pounds
Production: approximately four units built
Power: continuous 3 hp, overloaded to 5 hp (40–80 volts)
Battery: “Tudor system” 44-cell accumulator battery, 120 amp hours
Steering: stub axle front wheel
Driveline: rear wheel drive with differential gear
Brakes: Mechanical band and electrical short circuit
Wheels: Wooden spoke with pneumatic tires
Speed control: 12-speed controller
Top speed: 21 mph
Travelling speed: 15 mph