The World’s Very First Porsche Had Five Horsepower And Did 20 MPH: A Closer Look At The P1

The first Porsche to bear the now iconic brand name was the 1948 Type 356. But the first car Ferdinand Porsche designed came long before that in the way of the Egger-Lohner ‘P1’ electric vehicle. Earlier, we briefly touched on the P1, but now, let’s take a closer look.

The Egger-Lohner was one of the first vehicles to be registered in Austria, hitting the streets of Vienna on June 26, 1898. Porsche made sure he would get credit for his new invention, engraving ‘P1’ onto all the vehicles main components, giving it its unofficial name.

For the P1’s drive, Porsche used his own engine, the ‘octagonal electric motor’ which derived its name from the eight-sided design of the motor housing. The compact engine weighed around 280 lbs and produced approximately 3 horsepower at 350 rpm.  For short periods, the engine could put out 5 horsepower, allowing the P1 to reach 35 km/h (21 mph). The vehicle was powered by 1, 100 lb “Tudor” batteries which provided a considerable range of 50 miles.

Transferring the power was a single-speed differential gear with a ratio of 1:6:5. The transmission used 6 forward gears for different speeds, 4 reverse gears and 4 gears for braking. The P1 could be slowed two different ways, either by a mechanical handbrake or a more advanced electrical break which would interrupt the current flow of electricity from the motor.

The P1 also had another innovation, the Lohner alternating vehicle body, which allowed it to be configured with a closed, coupe style design and an open-top Phaeton design,  allowing the vehicle to be used in both the summer and winter.

Porsche put the Egger-Lohner P1 to the test by entering it in a 25-mile race for electric vehicles from Berlin to Zehlendorf and back. The route was extremely demanding, with drivers having to tackle high gradients, a 5-mile speed section and a 4.8 mile efficiency section. Porsche and the P1 won the race easily, beating the next competitor by 18-minutes. Technical difficulties prevented many of the competitors from finishing, while some weren’t assessed due to not meeting the minimum speed requirements.

The P1 was parked in a warehouse in Vienna in 1902 and forgotten about until recently when it was re-discovered fully intact. The restored vehicle was presented at a special invite only event earlier this week before being put on display at the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, Germany.

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