At his company, which moved during the War from Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen to Gmünd in Austria (Corinthian), Ferry Porsche started in 1947 to build “a sportscar, that I would like myself” with the aid of his reliable team. The starting point was the Volkswagen Beetle developed by his father. Fifty-two examples of the 356 model (not including number 1 off the line) were produced in Gmünd, all of the other vehicles produced after 1950 were built in Zuffenhausen. Initially Porsche’s design and administration departments were accommodated at Schwieberdinger Straße 147 in two wooden huts. Body production and vehicle assembly was completed in buildings owned by the Reutter carbody factory on the opposite side of the street. Porsche’s original plant premises, now Werk I, were occupied after the War by the Americans and could not be used again until 1956.
A further milestone was marked by the construction of a new building for Porsche engine and vehicle assembly in 1953. Shortly after the launch of the Porsche 911, the Reutter production buildings including body shell assembly were taken over by Porsche in 1964. A further important step was the completion of the three-story assembly hall (building 41) in 1969, which made it possible to increase capacity. In 1982, an automated high-bay warehouse was added. With the completion of the new paint shop next to the assembly hall in the spring of 1986 and the body shell assembly (Werk V) in August 1988, the current building structure took shape.
The Porsche 356 body was produced by hand at the Reutter carbody factory. The outer skin, comprising several pieces welded together, was placed on a basic vehicle frame. The gaps were filled with soft solder, a costly and time-consuming process, and ground off. In 1965, Porsche 356 production was shut down. At the end, the number of units produced totaled 25 bodies per day. With the launch of the Porsche 911 in 1964 Porsche broke away from the previous production methods. Various assemblies were now pre-assembled and then welded or bolted together to form the body. In 1973, Porsche was the first in the automobile industry to weld galvanized sheet-metal panels into the Porsche body. This marked a milestone in corrosion protection for automobiles.
The first robot put into operation at Porsche was a welding robot for the 911 rear axle transverse tube. 1988 marked the beginning of a new era in body shell assembly. The newly constructed body plant was opened for use, with 15 robots in operation for the first time. In July 1989, the last 911 body left the old Reutter building.
With the launch of the latest generation of vehicles, the degree of automation was increased while retaining the same level of flexibility. The mixed-model system is used in production so that the Boxster and 911 can be built in any order.