Porsche is celebrating 50 years of its research and development center in Weissach, Germany, with a special exhibit at the company museum, as well as a video explaining the history of the R&D center.
As noted in the video, company founder Ferdinand Porsche ran an engineering consultancy decades before his son Ferry put the Porsche name on a production sports car. This business was originally run out of an office in Stuttgart, Germany, but with the launch of sports cars, the company eventually went looking for more space and a location that could house a test track.
According to the video, Weissach was suggested by test driver Herbert Linge because there was ample land that wouldn’t have to be taken away from agriculture.
Groundbreaking for the R&D center took place on Oct. 16, 1961. Porsche was already producing many sports cars by that time, so perhaps it’s not surprising that construction started at the skidpad. The center, known as “Entwicklungszentrum Weissach” or “Development Center Weissach” in German, opened on Oct. 1, 1971.
Following construction of the skidpad, Porsche added two tracks for endurance testing. One was a high-speed loop known as the “Can-Am” track, after the Canadian-American Challenge Cup race series Porsche competed in at the time; the other was a handling track. Rough-road sections were included as well for durability testing.
By the time the facility opened, however, the company was thinking already about expansion. It purchased additional land and began construction of the addition in 1969. In 1971, Porsche relocated its entire R&D department from nearby Zuffenhausen to Weissach, and the design department followed in 1972.
Weissach thus became the development site not only for Porsche’s road and race cars, but also such client projects as the TAG turbo engine used by McLaren in Formula One, the Audi RS 2 Avant, and the Mercedes-Benz 500 E sports sedan.
The motorsports department is also located near the Weissach R&D center, which is why the automaker occasionally offers a Weissach Package on its hardcore performance models. Because the design department, known as Style Porsche, is also located on the same site, that also makes Weissach the home of the automaker’s concept cars.