Porsche Classic is remanufacturing the Porsche crest for early cars. This wonderful video shows how the badges are lovingly crafted.
The first cars didn’t have the now-famous Porsche crest, but simply had the word ‘Porsche’ spaced across the bonnet in extended capital letters – a style that remains part of the company’s brand to this day.
However, in 1952 US importer Max Hoffman suggested to Ferry Porsche over lunch that the 356 could do with a proper badge, like other car manufacturers had. The story goes that Ferry then quickly sketched out the design on a napkin and Hoffman gave it the thumbs up.
Ferry Porsche said later that he used to enjoy drawing coats of arms as a child, so it was inevitable he should turn to heraldry for inspiration. The background of the badge is the crest of Baden Württemberg, the German federal state that Porsche is based in. The black and red stripes are paired with representations of stag horns.
Laid over this is the simpler Stuttgart coat of arms, with the city’s name above it. The word comes from Stuot garten – stud garden or stud farm. Horses had been bred in the area for around 1000 years and that’s why the crest shows a rampant horse at its centre. There is, apparently, an heraldic link between this horse and the famous (and remarkably similar) ‘prancing horse’ which adorns Ferraris and was the coat of arms of Francesco Baracca, a First World War pilot. Curved cross the top of the badge is the word ‘Porsche’ in bold capitals.
Ferry Porsche passed his sketch to company designer Erwin Franz Komenda to be refined.
Before the new crest could be used on Porsches it had to be approved by the relevant city and state authorities. Once this was given, the badge appeared on 356s in 1953. However, at this stage it was only used on the steering wheel hub; the bonnet continued to carry the ‘Porsche’ lettering. The following year the badge found its way to the bonnet, where it sat proudly on the chromed grab handle.
When the 911 arrived in 1963, the Porsche crest was placed on the new car’s bonnet, where it has remained ever since. It has, however, changed slightly over the years. The most noticeable update was in 1995 when the ‘Porsche’ lettering was made thinner and finished in black so that it stood out better against the gold background. The original Porsche crest had the lettering in gold against a gold background. At the same time, the design of the badge was slightly tweaked to give it a more modern appearance.
Right from the start, 911s have had the Porsche crest on the steering wheel hub, so the driver could look at it. However, in 1984 this pleasant distraction was lost when Porsche introduced the Carrera 3.2 with its four-spoke wheel with rectangular boss; this had the word ‘Porsche’ stamped across it instead. Happily, though, the badge returned in 1993 with the 993. The three-spoke steering wheel of the 996 boasted a full-colour gold and red emblem; an attractive feature that continues to this day.
The other place the Porsche crest appears on many 911s is on the wheel centres. The first cars had steel wheels with chromed hubcaps that had the badges inset into them. The Fuchs wheels, which first appeared in 1966, were adorned with the famous crest, too. Initially these were uncoloured (the centres were plain aluminium on early cars, and black plastic on later ones), but optional full-colour versions appeared before too long. Normally, though, the crest appears in black over silver on 911 wheels. Note that when you’re fitting wheels, by the way, the bottom of the badge should be pointing directly at the tyre valve.