In the realm of automaking, few logos evoke an immediate sense of luxury, power, and craftsmanship like the Porsche Crest. The instantly recognizable emblem, featuring a rearing horse, has become an enduring symbol of the German automaker’s commitment to premium quality and design innovation. But few are aware that this famed logo underwent an extensive design process and faced early criticism, and as Porsche celebrates its 75th anniversary as a brand this year, it looks back on many moments in its long and very interesting history, including a time in which it may have changed its logo after introducing the Crest.
In 1948, when Porsche was carving its place in the automotive industry, the brand was initially recognized by the simple lettering of ‘Porsche.’ The tale goes that the aluminum letters were handcrafted by an apprentice and featured on the Porsche 356 ‘No. 1’ Roadster, the birth of Porsche as we know it today.
The journey towards the iconic Porsche Crest commenced in 1951, when Dr. Ottomar Domnick initiated The Porsche Prize competition to develop a logo for the burgeoning brand. Despite numerous design entries, none satisfied the Porsche vision. The game-changing design arose from a dinner conversation between Max Hoffman and Ferry Porsche in New York, resulting in a detailed crest that has become an integral part of the brand’s identity.
Designed by Franz Xaver Reimspieß in 1952, the final emblem consisted of a rearing horse from Stuttgart’s city seal, encased within a golden shield, accentuated by the city’s name. This emblem was a testament to Porsche’s commitment to Zuffenhausen car production. The encompassing red and black state colors and stylized antlers originate from the traditional Württemberg-Hohenzollern crest, forming an arch over the Porsche logo.
The Porsche Crest, however, was not without controversy. Its intricate design and color scheme posed printing challenges due to the complexity and cost of color printing in the 1950s. It faced further criticism for not providing a coherent visual effect in road traffic, unlike simpler, more modern-looking contemporary logos like the Mercedes star and the VW logo.
Prompted by this critique, Porsche collaborated with the talented commercial artist Hanns Lohrer to create alternative designs. The intention was to debut a new logo with the ‘T8 programme’, the successor to the Porsche 356. However, these plans never materialized, and only meticulous records kept by Porsche’s secretary Ghislain Kaes provide any evidence of these alternative design efforts.
In the end, the decision to retain the original Porsche Crest was arguably a wise one, as it had become synonymous with the brand’s identity. Today, the Crest, in its sixth iteration, remains undeniably and uniquely Porsche. It is a symbol of the brand’s steadfast dedication to design and quality, from the racetrack to the road, embodying the luxury, power, and passion that Porsche stands for in the automotive world.