Lohner-Porsche ‘Semper Vivus’ coming to the Porsche Museum

Article by Christian Andrei, on April 26, 2011

A reconstruction of the “Semper Vivus,” the first workable full-hybrid car ever built, can be viewed at a new special exhibition "Ferdinand Porsche - Pioneer of the Hybrid Drive.” Starting May 10, enthusiasts can get a glimpse of the early engineering creations of the young Ferdinand Porsche at its museum in Stuttgart.

Visitors will also be able to see the Cayenne, whose drivetrain will be shown as a main feature; and the Porsche Hybrid Bike, which gives a detailed look into its hybrid technology.

Also set to be displayed are a wheel hub and a DeDion-Bouton motor, which had driven the generators of the “Semper Vivus.” The “Semper Vivus” itself will be shown off during demonstrations on the Porsche Museum exhibition ground on the last weekend in May.

The public will get the chance to ask Porsche experts who will be eager to talk about the vehicle’s history and its technology. The cost of admission for adults is €8, while those who are entitled to discounts can get in for €4.

When accompanied by an adult, children up to 14 years old go in for free. The Porsche Museum is open from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, everyday except Mondays. Porsche has always been known for its new innovations in automotive engineering.

But one of the many things that it is especially proud of from its heritage is when Ferdinand Porsche, the founding father of the present-day Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG, Stuttgart, created the 'Semper Vivus' (translates to ‘always alive') in 1900.

It was in November 2007 when the Porsche Museum began one of the most exciting yet challenging projects in the company’s history: constructing a true-to-life reproduction of the 1900s Lohner-Porsche Semper Vivus. Though 111 years have passed following its invention, it is still challenging for everyone to build the first functioning hybrid car in the world. In the end, it was not only about paying too much attention to visual details but attaining a performance similar to the original.

The Porsche Museum handed over the craftsmanship to a group of experts headed by coachbuilder Hubert Drescher, who has proven his ability in several challenging restoration projects. When it comes to the amount of racing car projects, the Porsche Type 64 museum display has an aluminum body that also comes from the Hinterzarten coachbuilder workshop.

The first step was to do a comprehensive research in different archives across Europe. This resulted in a number of black-and-white photos plus an original technical drawing to serve as the basis of the project. According to Prof. Porsche, the replica of the Semper Vivus started as a blank piece of paper. This means that aside from a great deal of imagination, the project needed a comprehensive research as well as calculations to truly recreate a precise and functioning reproduction of the electric wheel-hub motor. Given that there are no available specifications or other supportive records, specialists first created design drawings and ready reckoners on graphing paper in a well-timed fashion.

This entailed the thorough study as well as difficult measurement of drawings and photos. Since there was no existing functioning wheel hub motor, technical details including range and performance had to be restored and calculated from scratch.

With regards to choosing materials, Drescher got his inspiration from other sources like carriages and coaches from the dawning of the 20th Century. This needed the help of experienced suppliers with whom the manufacture of special materials was entrusted. The fully functional Semper Vivus replica that took three years to construct does not merely contain replica components. For instance, a number of original components like combustion engines were included.

At present, the innovative spirit of Ferdinand Porsche’s continues to live on at the Porsche AG’s Research and Development Center located at Weissach, Germany, where Porsche is using its engineering power to develop different hybrid systems.

The 2011 Cayenne S Hybrid SUV, its first production hybrid, is available in several markets including the US. Its similar full hybrid system will be modified to be used in the Panamera S Hybrid that will be available in the latter part of the year with a MSRP of U$95,000 (not including destination). Porsche engineers are developing the GT3 R Hybrid racecar as they continue working on the plug-in 918 Spyder hybrid super sports car, first shown by the company at the 2010 Auto Show in Geneva.

Topics: porsche, museum

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