Porsche marks 50 years of Weissach development

Imagine if the Porsche Research and Development Centre could speak…

By John Howell / Tuesday, December 7, 2021 / Loading comments

If you have a love of history and a fondness for Porsche, then you’ll find your two favourite topics wrapped up in one video. This eleven-minute evaluation of the fifty-year history of the Porsche Development Centre at Weissach details its reason for being and explains how it has expanded over the last five decades.

The journey begins in the 1930s, when Ferdinand Porsche undertook development work for third-party clients. In time, this business outgrew its small base in Stuttgart and required a dedicated R&D centre. Ferry Porsche was rightly opposed to building on fertile agricultural land, so test driver Herbert Linge proposed a site 25km from Stuttgart at Weissach.

The land was owned in part by the local authority as well as private individuals and planning permission was eventually granted. In October 1961 work started on the 200-metre-diameter skid pad, with the two further test tracks created between 1967 and 1970. One is a high-speed 2.53km CanAm track for endurance testing and the other an undulating 2.87km handling track.

Yet it wasn’t until 1971 that the entire development department at Zuffenhausen was moved across to the first new building at Weissach, and the Research and Development Centre (EZW for short, from the German Entwicklungszentrum Weissach) was born. It housed a foundry, heat-treatment shop, forge and model shop. Not long after came the test-rig and crash-testing facilities and, in 1972, the design department moved across.

Over the last fifty years the facilities have expanded to include acoustic measuring, a climate simulator, environmental and emissions testing, engine and drivetrain testing and the famous motorsport centre. As well as being responsible for the GT road and racing cars, this is also where customer projects are developed. Perhaps the most notable of these was the TAG-sponsored 1000hp 1.5-litre turbocharged V6 that powered McLaren to three driver’s titles and two constructor’s titles between 1984 and 1986.

There’s a lot more detail to absorb from this video but one of the main reasons you’ll want to watch is the gratifying selection of shots of Porsches through the ages. These include everything from classic 911s on the ragged edge to design sketches and clay models of 924 and 944 dashboards.

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