Below ground at Porsche’s Weissach Development Center in Germany is a basement that never sees the light of day. Underneath the building’s several rooms dedicated to engineering, testing, and development of some of Germany’s most desirable cars that proudly fly under the Porsche’s coat of arms lies a treasure trove detailing the rich history of 70 years worth of vehicle creation. These days, software and programs take the front seat. Gone are the days of designing and conceptualizing vehicles by parchment and pen.
In the basement you will find drawings with familiar numbers; 924, 944, 928, 911, and so on, all rolled up and preserved with great care. These drawings are, in fact, some of the more than 100,000 historic design details for all of Porsche’s historical vehicles. From the steering wheel ideas and details for the Porsche 356, to an early Carrera logo dating back to 1952, all these parchments have survived decades. Also found here are aperture cards packed in drawers that hold data about Porsche’s designs. A special device is available and needed to read these cards, and Porsche has solicited the only supplier in the world, a UK-based company, to provide the machine needed that has the required capabilities. To this day, Porsche historians are still able to find undiscovered pages and items around the design center, such as certificates and awards.
If you’re a Porsche fan or an automotive junkie, like me, it’s the minute details that get us excited; the very essence of what makes Porsche so special. While the later and more modern designs aren’t welcome here, there is a great effort to digitize the entire collection. It’s a long and tedious process that has been going in since 2002, as the historical team has to comb through every piece to make sure nothing is lost.
So while the large and internationally renowned Porsche Archive is found in the Porsche Museum 11 kilometers away, the nitty gritty and almost obsessive levels of detail about each vehicle can be found in the Weissach Development Center. Quite literally underneath their noses.