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HomeCar CulturePorsche’s development center at Weissach celebrates 50th anniversary

Porsche’s development center at Weissach celebrates 50th anniversary

High-security facility is where the brand's cars, for street and track, are designed and developed

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For Porsche owners and those who wish they were, Weissach is not just another German town. To such people, it is an automotive Disneyland they wish they could experience. But they cannot unless they have a special invitation, because it is at Weissach that Porsches — for the road and the track — are developed.

It has been this way now for 50 years, since the Weissach Development Center was established in October 1971, with the Porsche design and development departments moving 25 miles from Zuffenhausen to a more secluded location in which to do their work. 

The facility spanned nearly 250 acres (think 250 football fields or soccer pitches), and 6,700 currently people work there. 

Porsche, Porsche’s development center at Weissach celebrates 50th anniversary, ClassicCars.com Journal
Porsche vehicle design and development activities are based some 15 miles from the company’s headquarters

Ferry Porsche was reluctant to convert any fertile farmland for industrial use, but former racing driver Herbert Linge convinced him that Linge’s rural hometown would be an ideal location.

“It is logistically and conveniently close to Zuffenhausen and is far enough in the country to attract little attention,” Linge is quoted in the 50th anniversary news release. “And of course, there was more space here to build a test track than in the city.”

Ground was broken in 1961 on what at first was a test track, used for the development of the new 901/911 model. In 1969, the company decided to reorganize and to bundle certain operations, and the Weissach Development Center was a result, housing motorsports and vehicle development staffs. The design department arrived in 1972. 

By 1974, a hexagon-shaped building was erected, designed to provide room for several small think-tank operations. Extensions were added in 1984 and 1992. Also added were buildings to house environmental technology and for powertrain testing. A wind tunnel joined the grounds in 1986.

And the building continues, with a second access road, a complete vehicle testing facility, a safety test center and a climatic wind tunnel under construction at the southern end of the property, which also is expanding.

With the expansion, noted Michael Steiner, Porsche board member in charge of research and development, “we are setting the global benchmark in automotive development. 

“Here we are shaping the mobility of today and tomorrow, with even more efficient and cleaner drive systems, new driving functions and innovative connectivity solutions that increase safety, environmental sustainability and driving fun and continue to make driving a Porsche an exciting, dynamic experience.”

Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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