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Weissach – Porsche Werk 8 – on 9 June 2016

By the late 1950s, the German Wirtschaftswunder was well underway and as the economy grew, so traffic density increased. This was particularly noticeable around Stuttgart often making testing on local Autobahnen inconvenient and it caused Ferry to think about creating his own test track. Thanks to its close relationship with VW, Porsche could always use the vast Ehra-Lessien proving ground, but that was a 550km drive north. He deputed his cousin Ghislaine Kaes, and Porsche financial director Hans Kerns, to look for a suitable site nearer home and the pair eventually found a parcel of land 20km west of Zuffenhausen situated between the villages of Mönsheim, Flacht and Weissach. At 38 hectares, it was rather bigger than Ferry had envisaged, but land prices were rising and smaller plots were in short supply. The need to establish a test centre outweighed other considerations and the plot was purchased in December 1960. In fact, it proved a wise investment and the company would later add more land to it, the facility today having become a true centre of Porsche excellence.

Porsche design office in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen 1950
Porsche design office in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen in 1950, with Ferry and Ferdinand Porsche (centre)
First Porsche 356 built in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen 1950
The first Porsche 356 built in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen after the war, shown outside Werk 2 on 6 April 1950. (From L-R): Karl Schmidt, Hugo Heiner, ? Haas, Alfred Weibel, Gustav Wölfle, Hans Klauser, Herbert Linge, Karl Kirn, Eberhard Storz and ? Braunschweig

Building began in autumn 1961 and the first task was to construct a handling pad. With a 190m outside radius and two inner radiuses of 60m and 40m, this plus a few huts was the basis of what would become Porsche’s R&D powerhouse. In 1967, a 1.8-mile track, designed by Helmuth Bott, then in charge of testing was begun around the perimeter of the site. It had a three-quarter mile straight along its western edge and all the turns were lightly banked, except one, a difficult adverse camber corner known as the ‘Bott chicane’ and built as such because the landscaping budget had run out by this point.

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