The collection of designs and engineering sketches span Porsche's 70-year history.

To the average person, a vast majority of the 100,000-plus sheets in storage at Porsche’s Weissach Development Center would be just a bunch of paper with no value whatsoever. As passionate purveyors of all things automotive, everyone reading this article knows very well that such documentation could well be made of solid gold, and even then it might not be as valuable because it’s hard to print original engineering schematics on gold. Actually, we haven’t tried, but that’s not the point.

More glorious Porsche history:

The point is that – whether you’re into American muscle or British sports cars, Japanese turbos, or German sedans – every single car enthusiast in the world is united by a passion for documentation. Remember how you felt when you found the build sheet to your BMW M3 stuffed under the back seat? Or how about finding the original window sticker in the stack of repair receipts from the old Mustang you just bought? That’s why Porsche’s recent announcement of its vast design drawing archive – spanning the company's 70 years of history – has our mouths watering at the prospect of spending an afternoon buried in the basement collection.

"This drawing shows the delicate bodywork of the 356. It was sketched out on a drawing board in 1950," said Uwe Geisel, the man pictured at the top of the page who's tasked with overseeing the collection. Yes, we so want to see this place.

Porsche Design Drawings
Porsche Design Drawings

Of course, we haven’t been invited to peruse it all (at least not yet), but judging by a few of the photos released it would be an afternoon well spent. Never mind that we only sort-of understand in-depth engineering schematics – it’s the history that makes it so awesome. Holding original design sheets for a 356 would be like scoring an original cut of Star Wars, where Han Solo shoot first. Okay, we’re channeling our inner nerd right now, deal with it.

Other news from Porsche suggests the archive is in safe hands and could well be expanded. For the first time in the company’s history there are over 30,000 employees, thanks to a growth rate of 130 percent since 2010. Porsche says that figure will continue to climb as well, with plans to hire another 700 employees for production of its all-electric Taycan that should go on sale in 2019.

Source: Porsche

Gallery: Porsche Design Files

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A collection amassed over time

The Porsche Archive is based in Zuffenhausen – but that’s not the whole story. There are also thousands of design drawings housed in a basement room in the Weissach Development Center. All in all, this 70-year collection contains over 100,000 sheets.

Uwe Geisel’s movements are almost reverential as he unrolls a construction drawing with the utmost care and caution on the table top in front of him. He caresses the sheet of parchment with his hand and pauses briefly before commenting with the air of a true expert; “This technical drawing shows an early Carrera logo dating back to 1952”. The process is repeated with another sheet of parchment: “There's a lot of interesting details on this one, which was produced in 1948 for the Cisitalia. See the steering wheel? It makes another appearance in the Porsche 356-001”. Geisel allows the tension to build as he unrolls the next sheet; “This drawing shows the delicate bodywork of the 356. It was sketched out on a drawing board in 1950”. All of these drawings are originals that have survived the decades intact.

The windowless basement room in the Weissach Development Centre might appear cold and austere, but first impressions are deceptive. When Uwe Geisel pushes the large shutter cabinets apart, a wondrous sight appears – thousands of rolled-up construction drawings. Their orderly arrangement is reminiscent of honeycombs, as is their yellowish tint. Other drawings are kept in the shallow drawers of light grey metal cabinets. The number sequences on the front of these cabinets start with some familiar digits – “924 …”, “944 …”, “928 …” – but the numbers at the end are harder to interpret.

More than 100,000 historic drawings are stored here and Geisel’s love of them is manifest. Around one million aperture cards also come under his care. Packed tightly together in drawers, they hold data about Porsche designs of the distant past. A device in a black carbon finish was recently acquired in order to reproduce these cards. The UK-based supplier of this device is the only company in the world that manufactures card readers with the specific functionalities required.

The large and internationally renowned Porsche Archive is safely accommodated inside the new Porsche Museum. But most of the company’s reams of construction drawings can be found in Weissach. “We work closely together with our colleagues in Zuffenhausen”, emphasises Geisel. Requests from fans of classic Porsche vehicles are received as gladly here as they are in Zuffenhausen.

According to Uwe Geisel: “We have been working on digitising our holdings since 2002 to ensure everything survives”. The guiding principle is to collect as much as possible so that nothing is lost. The only items Geisel might consider rejecting are computer printouts of recent digital designs. And even those will first be inspected and sorted. “New material is still appearing”, says the expert. Recent arrivals include several certificates, awards and picture frames. His colleagues immediately recognised the value of the certificates and asked the expert for his opinion.

Geisel is confident that other treasures of this kind are still lurking in the cabinets of the Development Centre, and his hopes rest on the willingness of his colleagues to help him. They include soon-to-be retirees, for example, who are having one last sort through the flotsam and jetsam of their working life before they leave. For all such cases, Department EVS3 and its archive of digital and analogue drawings is only a phone call away.

Number of employees above 30,000 for the first time

With a current figure of 30,500 employees, Porsche has surpassed the 30,000 mark for the first time. This corresponds to a growth of 130 percent since 2010.

And there will be more new jobs created in the future; just for the production and assembly of the Taycan – the first purely electrically powered Porsche, which will be available on the market at the end of 2019 – another 700 employees will be hired at the Zuffenhausen site. Many of Porsche’s new employees are part of Generation Y. In total, this demographic makes up more than 40 per cent of the workforce.

The company’s refined cultural concept gives everyone a shared understanding of what makes Porsche tick. The central umbrella terms of family, passion, sportiness and pioneering spirit also form the basis of the Porsche Code, the new management concept. Even the path to devising this cultural concept was typical of Porsche, as the approach was not simply decreed from above, but was developed by 85 employees from all departments as well as across all levels and age groups. They considered the question of what it is that makes the Porsche culture so unique? And they discussed where the company needs to develop to be successful in the future and to formulate a unique identity – a Porsche DNA – that attracts and retains good employees.

The essential importance of the cultural concept for the sports car manufacturer is attested to by well-known cultural mentors: Oliver Blume, Chairman of the Executive Board, Andreas Haffner, Member of the Executive Board for Human Resources and Social Affairs and Uwe Hück, Group Works Council Chairman of Porsche AG.

Passion

describes the fervour and enthusiasm with which we strive together to find the best solution every single day. We will continue to embody the Porsche legend in the future, working with joy and pride on innovative products for our customers.

Pioneering spirit

refers to our origins: a small business with a garage feeling that has inspired the world with its sports cars. Porsche must continue to be known for entrepreneurship and courage, exploring new and unknown paths and creating sustainable, unique solutions.

Sportiness

refers to our attitude: We love challenges, act quickly and are always respectful and fair. We will continue to measure ourselves against the best, seek out competition and maintain our flexibility despite strong growth.

Family

refers to our team, which keeps its feet on the ground even while celebrating successes. We will continue with this mindset as we look to the future, using a culture of transparency and diversity to create relationships based on respect and appreciation.