A 116 year old Porsche has been found sitting in a warehouse in Austria….for a 112 years! What makes this Porsche special, apart from the fact it’s been in hiding for 112 years? Two things. The first, is that it was the first. The first Porsche ever built that is. It was designed and built in 1898 by Ferdinand Porsche at the tender age of 22 which makes it Porsche #1, or ‘P1.’ That is why Porsche stamped ‘P1’ on numerous components of the car. The second is that it has an electric drive.
The car is called the Egger-Lohner-Elektromobil, Model C.2 Phaeton, or P1. It was built by Porsche while he was in the employ of Jacob Lohner, a car builder based out of Vienna, Austria. It was discovered last year and recently put on display at the Porsche museum in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen.
Considering it is over a hundred years old it is a marvel of engineering. Built of wood, it has a curb weight of 2,977 lbs, 1,100 lbs. of which is the battery, is fully electric, no ‘hybrid’ moniker here, and has a 12 speed gearbox. Six forward, two reverse, and four that were used for braking. The P1 produces a whopping three horsepower which could propel it to a stately top speed of 21 mph with a range of around 49 miles, all from a 289 lb. 12-volt electric motor.
Those numbers may seem archaic compared to today’s vehicles, but when Porsche entered the P1 in a Berlin road race in 1899 he thumped the competition and crossed the finish line a full 18 minutes ahead of his nearest rival. The P1 also finished with the distinction of being the most energy efficient car in the race. Now the 116 year old warehouse find is on display at the Porsche museum in Stuttgart.
Porsche went on to work for Daimler, but left that company in 1931 to form his own company which bares his name today. That same company has gone on to produce sports cars today that are known and loved around the world for their performance and engineering prowess.
The initial efforts at electric motors were based around a belief that people would prefer the efficiency and quietness of an electric motor over their noisier and smellier gasoline powered equivalents. It was a belief that did not hold and the technology was abandoned for many years.
Flash forward a 116 years. With tougher emission controls in place, and high gasoline prices now the norm, the belief in electric power is making a comeback, and Porsche has waded in with their own efforts.
Today a Porsche buyer is given the option of buying a traditionally powered Porsche, or they can opt for a hybrid, a combination of a combustion engine and electric motor vehicle. If they opt for a hybrid, they have the power to go green, or greener than a standard engine at least. The new Porsche 918 Spyder is one such car. It offers five different driving modes using three different motors, one combustion motor at the rear axle, and electric motors at the front and rear axles.
When putting the 116 year old P1 next to the new Spyder Hybrid a true picture can be seen regarding the evolution of electric power and the automobile in general.
P1 – 2977 lbs.
Spyder – 3,715 lbs.
Range in electric mode:
P1 – 49 miles.
Spyder – 18 miles.
Top speed in electric mode:
P1 – 21 mph.
Spyder – 93 mph.
0 to 60 mph:
P1 – Top speed of 21 mph.
Spyder – 7 seconds.
P1 – Wood.
Spyder – Carbon fiber reinforced polymer
The new Porsche Spyder is a hybrid, it can be driven conservatively in “E-Power” mode, or if the driver wants a full Porsche experience he or she can mat the gas pedal in “Hot Lap” mode and the 4.6-liter, 608 hp, eight cylinder engine will take over the propulsion chores.
It’s an interesting evolution, an evolution that some might contend originates to a 116 year old Porsche found in a warehouse in Austria 112 years after it was put out to pasture. Go figure.
By Scott Wilson