Every once in a while a man or woman comes along who wants to shake the tree, turn convention on its side, or just to improve the way we do things. Having written several books on the Porsche marque, when the opportunity arose to review Karl Ludvigsen’s book, Ferdinand Porsche: Genesis of Genius, I naturally grabbed it with both hands. Quite apart from my admiration for Ludvigsen’s work, the prospect of learning a little more about Ferdinand Porsche the thinker, the visionary, the innovator, was not an opportunity to be missed. Not much has been written on his early years, nor on the sheer scale and variety of Professor Porsche’s creations and developments, and so when this book arrived it was with some eagerness and enthusiasm that I dived straight in.
Few today realise the significance of the legacy of Ferdinand Porsche, the inspiration and founder of the Porsche sports cars that we know and love. Growing up in an era when motoring experimentation and development was carried out by pioneers in a fledgling industry, this was the environment in which Ferdinand Porsche thrived. Much of Porsche’s work during the period 1910-1930s had such a significant impact on the motor industry that we are still reaping the benefits of this progress today.
Engineer, designer, company executive or racing driver, Porsche understood the business of motor cars and how to read the market that hungered for personal mobility. How else could such a man design and fabricate the Volkswagen (Beetle), and create the awesome mid-engined Auto Union C-type, design aircraft engines, develop the Lohner electric car (in 1901)…the list goes on? Such a man is both complex and yet simple in nature, as he was able to communicate with his workers as easily as he could with corporate executives and heads of state.
But in order to capture the life of such a person it takes another to have the understanding of this great man. This, author Karl Ludvigsen has done quite brilliantly thanks to his painstaking and diligent research into the subject, and the access to the Porsche and Piëch families that he enjoyed.
The 570 illustrations and photos in Genesis of Genius include:
- 7 specially-commissioned 18.5 in. x 12 in. full colour foldout drawings of some of the most important early car designs of Ferdinand Porsche by renowned Swiss automotive artist Wolfgang Franke
- 9.5 in. x 12 in. full colour plate insert showing engine detail from the 1910 Prince Heinrich car
- Reproductions of original pages from Ferdinand Porsche’s original handwritten notes
Karl Ludvigsen is the winner of five top automotive book awards:
- 2009 Nicholas-Joseph Cugnot Award
- 2008 International Automotive Media Award – Best of the Year
- 2008 International Automotive Media Award -Best of Books
- International Automotive Media Award – Best Design of 2008
- 2008 Mercedes-Benz Montagu of Beaulieu Award
Ferdinand Porsche—Genesis of Genius is well presented, lavishly illustrated with many previously unpublished images, some from the Porsche family archives, and contains valuable extracts from Ferdinand Porsche’s personal notes. This is a huge work and a must for all serious book collectors, historians and enthusiasts of the early German motor industry.
Ferdinand Porsche — Genesis of Genius: Road, Racing and Aviation Innovation 1900 to 1933
Author: Karl Ludvigsen
Hardcover, 9.5in. x 12 in.
570 B/W and color photos & illustrations
Written by: Glen Smale