The history of the Porsche company began long before Ferdinand Porsche thought of starting his own auto manufacturing business. As a young engineer, he designed the first electric/gasoline hybrid -- in 1900. Over his career, he worked with Daimler, Mercedes, Daimler-Benz, Volkswagen, Auto Union, and others for nearly 50 years. His independent design firm was even responsible for the creation of the Volkswagen Beetle in 1931.
Unlike many other car companies, the Porsche crew plodded forward with little drama, even after Ferdinand Porsche passed away in 1951 at age 76. They found their flagship in 1963: the 911. The concept had been called the 901, but the 1964 production car was officially named the 911. It had a two-liter six-cylinder engine that put out 130 hp, far more than its predecessor. Targa, semi-automatic, high-performance, and entry-level versions followed within the decade.
Though it builds in large numbers, Porsche has four basic models on the market: The 911 Carrera, the Boxster, the Cayman, which was introduced in 2006, and the Cayenne sports SUV, which debuted in 2007. The all-new Porsche Panamera is slated to debut as a 2010 model. After decades of 9-series model names, the current roster rolls off the tongue as easily as the cars roll off the production line in Stuttgart.