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Porsche - Origin of the Species with Foreword by Jerry Seinfeld [Hardcover]

Karl Ludvigsen , Jerry Seinfeld
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 3, 2012 0837613310 978-0837613314

Porsche - Origin of the Species is the latest Porsche heritage book by renowned automotive historian Karl Ludvigsen.

Within Jerry Seinfeld s renowned Porsche collection resides an unassuming yet extraordinary piece of Porsche history: Porsche Gmund coupe 356/2-040. Captured exclusively for this book in a series of evocative portraits by acclaimed automotive photographer Michael Furman, 040's unsullied originality conveys with startling immediacy the combination of artistry, innovation and determination that went into its improbable creation. This cornerstone of the Seinfeld collection serves as the inspiration for Porsche - Origin of the Species, an in-depth exploration by the eminent automotive historian Karl Ludvigsen into the specific influences and circumstances that brought forth the first Porsche-badged sports cars.

How and when did the people of the Porsche firm find themselves in a sawmill in Gmund? What was the influence on the 356 of the cars and engines built by Porsche before and during the war? How and why was the first 356 shaped as it was? What was the real relationship between the tube-framed Type 356 roadster and the first 356/2 coupes? Questions like these deserve answers because the resulting DNA is so powerful, so robust, that it still influences the shape and style of Porsches well into the twenty-first century.

Karl Ludvigsen, author of the award-winning Porsche: Excellence Was Expected and Ferdinand Porsche Genesis of Genius, tackles these questions and more in Porsche - Origin of the Species. The saga that emerges encompasses mechanical revelations, human drama and the turmoil of world war. Porsche - Origin of the Species will appeal to all car enthusiasts who are eager to know what events really ignited the spark from which all other Porsches evolved.

Frequently Bought Together

Porsche - Origin of the Species with Foreword by Jerry Seinfeld + Porsche 911: 50 Years + Porsche 911 Book: 50th Anniversary Edition
Price for all three: $197.82

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Editorial Reviews


BOOK OF THE MONTH ... Ludvigsen's writing style is a captivating joy to read, plus the main text is accompanied by fascinating panels including Robert Cumberford on styling, Miles Collier on preservation and Alex Finigan on ownership. --Classic & Sports Car

It is a fascinating read and one that we would put in the Top 10 of Porsche books. At 356 pages, with a great deal of unseen archive material, and some genuine revelations, its asking price seems a genuine bargain. --911 & Porsche World

THE BOOK OF THE YEAR!...This book is quite possibly the best book published this year and we are certain it will appeal to all enthusiasts who are eager to know what events really ignited the spark from which all other Porsches evolved. --Classic Porsche Magazine

Already respected for his many automotive books, Karl Ludvigsen reaches higher yet with his new work, "Porsche - Origin of the Species." While one of his previous Porsche epics, "Excellence Was Expected," was considered the definitive history of the marque, his latest volume is crammed with new material, including first-time accounts of missing links in Porsche's evolution...much more than just a coffee-table decoration...definitely a keeper for Porschephiles and all car enthusiasts. --The New York Times

Such an immense and varied body of research is presented in as clear and concise a body of writing as I have lately encountered. Factor in the truly fine reproduction of photos, quality of paper and binding, great choice of type faces - and what we have is ample proof that books are in fact not a dying media. A splendid read by any calculation! --Porsche 356 Registry Magazine

From the Author

Porsche has many claims to uniqueness as a car maker. Here are a few of them:
* Throughout its life its auto manufacturing has been sister to a powerful product-engineering business with customers in all parts of the world.
* It has been a dedicated independent producer, in significant volume, of high-performance sports cars. In the 21st Century this image has been debased by its four-door adventures, but these too have sporting profiles.
* Until it hit the business buffers in 2009, Porsche was owned and controlled by powerful families that traced their origins to one iconic pioneer. No other car maker of substance could make that claim.
* Thanks to its steady production over the years of customer-friendly competition cars, Porsche can claim more victories and more championships than any other major marque.
For this author, however, one of Porsche's most fascinating characteristics is its powerful genetic makeup. It has been my privilege and pleasure to follow--in real time--the evolution of Porsche cars from the beginnings of 1948 to the present day. Over these years the pure Porsche, in the person of the 356 as it morphed into the 911, has staunchly represented the most robust bloodline in the motor industry.
Famously the 911 shrugged off all attempts to make it obsolete. In the late 1970s its sales refused to fall below the rate of 25 cars per day that then-chief Ernst Fuhrmann set as the minimum for production viability. When in 1981 new Porsche boss Peter Schutz asked, "What is the product we are making our money with?" he was told it wasn't the 928, whose volumes were too small. Neither was it the 924, which was made dealers happy but left little profit margin for Porsche. It was the long-neglected 911, which Schutz gave the kiss of life.
Another crisis was surmounted in the early 1990s with the launch of the Type 993. With its predecessor the 964, said new chief engineer Ulrich Bez, the management board "had come to the conclusion that the 911 was at its end." But instead of obliging them with something completely new, Bez created a new 911 in the shape of the 993, the last of the air-cooled Porsches.
"This was a car to decide whether or not Porsche had a future," said later chief Wendelin Wiedeking. "That was a very decisive car for Porsche," added engineer Volker Berkefeld. "It had to be good. Thank God it was good!" In model year 1996, with the cancellation of the 968 and 928 and the Boxster not yet launched, the 993 was the only car that Porsche could offer its network and its customers. Produced on Monday, July 15th, 1996, Porsche's millionth car was a 911 Carrera from the 993 range.
 Many forecast disaster for the 911 Carrera's transition to water-cooled power with the new Type 996 of the 1998 model year. Surely this would be more effete, less charismatic. But Porsche's engineers confounded the critics, creating a new 9l1 that was a fabulous basis for the development that still continues.
 One man had been the talisman for the 911's development, indeed for the continuity of the Porsche bloodline from the very beginning. He of course was Ferry Porsche. Ferry was in rude good health at the launch of the Boxster, the car that harked back to his original roadster of 1948. He was more fragile when he turned 88 years of age in September of 1997, when the new 996-based 911 Carrera was displayed for the first time at the Frankfurt Show.
 On March 27, 1998 Ferry Porsche died. The man who had served for so many decades as Porsche's "ideal customer" was no more. He was no longer available to motivate his team, to provide the touchstone that would determine whether a new-car proposal lived or died. Though he later had regrets about moving upstairs from the management board when all family members withdrew from Porsche management in 1972, Ferry had done his job well. Subtly, his views reinforced by the deep respect he commanded throughout the company and the Porsche world, Ferry guided the evolution of the model that was at the heart of Porsche's powerful appeal.
 The contribution of Ferry Porsche notwithstanding, the durability of the 356/911 concept has been unique in an industry that prides itself on being forward-looking. No other car maker can claim anything comparable. Chevrolet's Corvette is still with us after more than a half-century, however with sharp changes in styling and engineering that have vitiated any genetic continuity. Ferrari has remained true to its high-performance principles but with widely disparate designs. Both Jaguar and Aston Martin have struggled in the 21st century to reanimate DNA from their successful pasts.
 Only Morgan can point to a consistency of design that's comparable to that of the 356/911, dating from the introduction of its first four-wheeled model at the end of 1935. Using engines made by major auto companies, Morgan survives as a niche producer at three-figure annual volumes. Exemplary though its continuity has been, Morgan can't be seen as a challenger to the potency of the Porsche DNA.
 What has been the secret of the species Porsche? What has given it such strong survivability? Indeed it has been adaptable as well, elements of its strain being incorporated in such sharply differing models as the Cayenne and Panamera, making them visibly and identifiably members of the extended Porsche family. In part we can credit the continuity of Porsche's styling chiefs, from Erwin Komenda and Butzi Porsche through Tony Lapine and Harm Lagaay, not to mention such key interpreters as Dick Soderberg, Wolfgang Möbius, Pinky Lai and Grant Larson.
 Yet these men and others had to have something to work with, some starting point that could be identified as the origin of the species Porsche. Divining that origin is the purpose of this book. We know what the first Porsches looked like, the 356 variants of 1948 that established the lineage. But why did they look the way they did? What underpinned their design? What are the roots of the DNA that caused the 356 to be born with a configuration that departed so radically from the sports-car status quo?
 I invite you to join me as we turn back the clock to the late 1930s and the 1940s when the Porsche sports-car DNA was created. That's how far back we need to go to grasp the influences, the ideas, the men and the machinery that made up the Type 356. Some of the saga will be familiar but much will be new even to the most seriously shriven Porsche fanatic. It begins before World War 2 when the Porsche men created the car the world knew as the Volkswagen. Crude and humble though it was, it gave them plenty of ideas.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 356 pages
  • Publisher: Bentley Publishers (September 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0837613310
  • ISBN-13: 978-0837613314
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 10.8 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #155,207 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Biographical Background
Karl Ludvigsen

In addition to his motor industry activities as an executive (with GM, Fiat and Ford) and head of a consulting company, Karl Ludvigsen has been active for over 50 years as an author and historian. As an author, co-author or editor he has some four dozen books to his credit. Needless to say, they are all about cars and the motor industry, Karl's life-long passion.
Since 1997 Ludvigsen has been drawing on the photographic resources of the Ludvigsen Library to write and illustrate books on the great racing drivers. His first title in this series was Stirling Moss ' Racing with the Maestro. He followed this with Jackie Stewart ' Triple-Crowned King of Speed and Juan Manuel Fangio ' Motor Racing's Grand Master. Fourth in this series for Haynes Publishing was Dan Gurney ' The Ultimate Racer and fifth was Alberto Ascari ' Ferrari's First Double Champion. Next came Bruce McLaren ' Life and Legend of Excellence and Emerson Fittipaldi ' Heart of a Racer.
Also in the field of motor sports Karl Ludvigsen has written about road racing in America, the cars of the Can-Am series, the AAR Eagle racing cars, the GT40 Fords and Prime Movers, the story of Britain's Ilmor Engineering. His introduction to At Speed, a book of Jesse Alexander's racing photography, won the Ken W. Purdy Award for Excellence in Automotive Journalism. Other motors-sports titles include Classic Grand Prix Cars, a history of the front-engined G.P. racer, and Classic Racing Engines, Karl's personal selection of 50 notable power units.
Four of Karl Ludvigsen's books concern the Chevrolet Corvette, one of them an industry best-seller. He has written three times about Mercedes-Benz, twice about its racing cars. His books on the latter subject have won the Montagu Trophy (once) and the Nicholas-Joseph Cugnot Award (twice), both recognising outstanding automotive historical writing. In 2001 he again received the Cugnot award from the Society of Automotive Historians for his book about the early years of the Volkswagen, Battle for the Beetle, a Robert Bentley publication.
Karl Ludvigsen's Porsche history, Excellence was Expected, is considered by many to be a model of the researching and writing of the history of an auto company. He has updated it twice in a three-volume format for Bentley Publishers for the new Millennium. He is the author of a series of monographs on great Maserati cars. His book BRM V16 for Veloce Publishing tells the story of one of the most controversial racing cars of all time. In The V12 Engine for Haynes he describes the creation and consequences of all the cars ever powered by the iconic vee-twelves.
In 1997 Ludvigsen researched and wrote the catalogue for a special exhibition of Ferrari technological innovations on the occasion of the company's 50th anniversary and contributed a major section to the company's official 50-year history. He has updated this for the company's 60th anniversary. Karl's understanding of the Ferrari world combined with his Library's holding of the Rodolfo Mailander photo archive to produce Ferrari by Mailander in 2005, a Dalton Watson publication. In 2006 with Dalton Watson Karl has published The Incredible Blitzen Benz, the story of six great record-breaking cars.
In co-operation with publisher Iconografix, Ludvigsen has established the Ludvigsen Library Series of 128-page books drawing on the holdings of the Ludvigsen Library. The series now numbers 19 titles, including books on Indy racing cars of 1911 to 1939, the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, the Indy Novis, Chevrolet's Corvair and Corvette, the Mercedes-Benz 300SL of 1952 and 1954-1964, the 300SLR of 1955, Porsche Spyders, Porsche 917, Jaguar XK120, XK140 and XK150, Land Rover Defender the Ferrari factory and American sports-racers: the Cunninghams, Chaparrals and Can-Am racing cars. More titles are in preparation.

Status: December 2006

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Porsche - Origin of the Species September 13, 2012
Carl Ludvigsen certainly has the lock on spectacular and spectacularly informative Porsche history book: first, in 1978, Excellence Was Expected, now out as a three volume edition 2.1 - unquestionably the best marquee history ever written, followed by Genesis of Genius, which took us from Professor Ferdinand Porsche's early years up to more or less the beginning of World War 2. Still awaited is a middle volume to filling this gap. Instead, we have Porsche Origin of the Species; which rather than be a standard chronological series draws together a series of sequential and parallel events, without any one of which there would be no Porsche.

Porsche father and son had always raced and been willing to spend un-booked company time designing cars. Sometimes this worked out, as with the design for Typ 22 Grand Prix car, which was purchased by Auto Union. Sometimes the designs appeared to be still born, as with the Typ 64 and Typ 114. Typ 64? I had taken it as an article of faith that the Typ 64 was the Porsche-side design number corresponding to the VW 60 10K - remember Typ 60 was Porsche's design number for the initial VW. Carl argues that the Typ 64 was not, even for the time, a particularly advanced design. Apparently Porsche developed the 60 10K as a purely VW effort - remembering of course that Porsche supplied the entire design and engineering staff to VW. The Typ 114 was the influential body design, on top of a VW-like pan. From there is not difficult to see the evolution; via the tube frame 356/1 and then the 356/2 bent sheet metal with attached aluminum body to the final monocoque.

On two levels the Cisitalia contract, which included several designs in addition to the nascent
Grand Prix car is just as important.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highest Recommendation September 4, 2012
Whoa!! I just received this book and it is one of the best Porsche related books to be released in a while. The book covers Seinfeld's Gmuend coupe (on the cover), but the book is so much more than that. As the title suggests, the book provides the history and origin of the Porsche automobile and Ludvigsen does this beautifully, with lovely detail and exquisite photos of people, documents, cars, etc. Wow! The book is done to a very high standard, printed on high quality paper. There are wonderful sidebar pieces in the book by many who have been involved with the design of Porsches (e.g., Freeman Thomas and Tony Hatter, among others) as well as those involved in the restoration of Seinfeld's car. Highest recommendation!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it. February 25, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Beautifully printed and designed.
Great research that I didn't see anyplace else especially about 1st Porches.
Must for 356 lovers.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is an awesome purchase for a Porsche lover!! March 29, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
We purchased this book for a customer. It sealed the deal! He loved it!! I will probably purchase one for my husband.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must for the faithful. March 19, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
For those who love the DNA of Machine Art, this is a must read. A great story with a lot of smarts!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must for Porsche Addicts November 5, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Like I really needed one more book on vintage Porsches - well, turns out, I did. This is a must have for anyone interested in the early days of Porsche production. The featured car (and front and back cover photos) is Jerry Seinfeld's who provided the foreword. This is a great gift for yourself and anyone on your holiday list who enjoys these cars. An instant classic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review November 26, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Very happy, bought it for a 50th birthday present as a coffee book and for a lover of the car
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Deja Vu February 24, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am pretty sure I have most of the books written about Porsche in the last 60 years. Many of those books are, disappointedly, remixes of others. It is hard to believe that there is anything new to be learned about the early development of Porsche cars.
This book is certainly new and refreshing as it contains information and photographs about early Porsche development that I have not seen in included in any other books.
The book is well formated and logically organized. The photos and drawing included are large and clear. 350 pages of intersting reading.
Of course, the fact that it was written by Karl Ludvigsen, "Excellence Was Expected," makes it even more classic.
A "must have" for a 356 enthusiast.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great early pictures and very readable text
The perseverance of Dr. Porsche to attend to the family business in the postwar is inspiring. Leave it to the Austrians.
Published 3 months ago by Charles Sachs
5.0 out of 5 stars Book
This product does a great job. It is priced right and well constructed. I would recommend heartily. A real buy!
Published 6 months ago by Bartoomann
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Gift
I have this to my car nut Father for Father's Day and my Mom called me to ask me not to give him another gift like this again... he has been raving about it for weeks!
Published 8 months ago by Stuhl232
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book!!!
I just received my copy of this amazing book and I have to tell you that it 's awesome!
The quality is super, it 's a large book as other reviewers mentioned, that 's... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Bart-Man
5.0 out of 5 stars Every Porsche lover should get this book
I'm a Porsche nut,and I love this book!Has a lot of info on the history and origin.Good pictures on nice paper stock.
Published 14 months ago by RShel
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
Thrilling indepth Porsche history plus Jerry Seinfeld's enthusiastic view on his favorite brand and the heart of his car collection!
Published 14 months ago by Darrel J. Dore
5.0 out of 5 stars Porsche what more do I say
I am skimming through pages and jumping from chapter to chapter and am enjoying the book right from the forward. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Wayne
2.0 out of 5 stars Porsche-Origin of the Species
It was not what I expected. I think my expections were just not consistant with what the book was about- no body at fault.
Published 19 months ago by mike forster
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