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Thanks to the model 356, created in 1948 by Ferdinand Anton Ernst "Ferry" Porsche, the Porsche car company became known worldwide as a producer of successful sports and racing cars. Several years earlier, in 1934, Porsche worked with father Ferdinand Porsche on the first designs of the Volkswagen car.
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During this time, the factory operated with what Porsche would later recall as 15,000 to 20,000 Russian employees, although he did not point out that these were prisoners of war who were providing slave labor.
After World War II, the French threw Porsche's father in prison until 1947, but neither he nor his son stood trial for war crimes. Instead, as The New York Times reported,
"The real reason for their arrest seems to have been an attempt to force them to collaborate with the French auto industry." In any case, the Porsche factory moved in 1944 from the rubble of Stuttgart to Gmund, Austria, where Porsche decided to create a new sports car. Because the new German government had canceled their contract to produce cars, Porsche pursued plans for the vehicle that he had initiated back in 1939. It was based on the light, compact model of the VW, with an aluminum body and a four-cylinder and 1131cc engine.
In the 1970s, critics berated the less costly, fuel-conscious Porsche 924 developed for the oil-deprived decade, but the firm rebounded and had its peak year in 1986, selling close to 50,000 cars.
After the American stock exchange crash in 1987, sales fell, but a decade later, sales were up and the product line featured a cheaper, retro-style Porsche similar to the originals, called the Boxster. Much of this success was credited to engineer Wendelin Wiedeking, who took over as Porsche chairman after decades of family feuding and scandals, in addition to the financial crises that were weathered.
Colleagues often described the short and stocky Ferry Porsche as a soft-spoken and modest man. Porsche retired from his company in 1993 and died five years later, on March 27, 1998. He was survived by sons Butzi, Gerhard, Peter and Wolfgang. Porsche was buried beside his parents, Ferdinand and Aloisia Porsche, as well as his wife Dorothea, in Zell am See, Austria.
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