Porsche has announced it has purchased the oldest car designed by company founder Ferdinand Porsche in order to celebrate the fifth anniversary of its museum in Stuttgart, Germany. Christened Egger-Lohner C.2 Phaeton but called P1 informally, the car spent the last 112 years partially dismantled in a warehouse in Austria.
Decades before he founded the sports car company that bears his name, young Porsche was commissioned by Jacob Lohner to design a compact all-electric drivetrain capable of comfortably powering a passenger car. Precise technical details are a little vague but Porsche says the P1’s motor produced three horsepower under normal operating conditions and five horsepower when an overload function kicked in. The P1 could reach a top speed of 21 mph (35 km/h) – an impressive velocity over a century ago – and it had a maximum driving range of 50 miles (80 kilometers).
The P1 was completed on June 26th, 1898, and government archives indicate it was one of the very first cars ever registered in Austria. It was relatively compact, though its battery tipped the scale at a whopping 1,103 pounds (500 kilos).
Lohner built an innovative alternating body that made it possible for the car to be driven in the summer and in the winter regardless of weather conditions. The body is gone today and Porsche has replaced it by semi-transparent pieces of plastic that give a rough idea of what the car looked like over 100 years ago.
Porsche ambitiously entered his car in an EV-only race held in Berlin, Germany, in September of 1899. The P1 navigated the challenging 24-mile (40-kilometer) course with aplomb even with three passengers on board and it finished first with an 18-minute lead.
Four examples of the P1 were built but the only remaining example is the one recently purchased by Porsche. The company has not announced whether it will leave the car as-is or partially restore it by re-creating the missing panels.