Ahead Of Its Time: 3 Times Porsche's Engineering Blew Away Its Competition

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Do you like passenger air bags? What about four-wheel drive? How about hybrid vehicles? These are just three things that Porsche introduced to the world and U.S. before anyone else. It might not be surprising given Porsche's astounding history of producing fine vehicles and providing quality service. However, what might be surprising are the years that some of these milestones were first introduced to the automotive world.

Passenger Air Bags

Long gone are the days of the driver sticking out their right arm to keep the passenger from smashing face first off the dashboard. (The people in the back always had the seats in front of them, which were a little softer.) In 1986, Porsche brought the 944 over to the U.S., and with it, they offered the first passenger air bags available in an automobile selling in the U.S.

If the engines and power of the Porsche 944 weren't enough to cause worry to competitors, the air bags helped boost Porsche sales that year. The company sold almost every one of the 11,000 models it made in 1986. The envy propelled American automakers to adapt and include passenger airbags in their vehicles.

Four-Wheeled Brakes/Hybrid Vehicles

Hybrid vehicles started to gain attention of American consumers during the surge of gas prices and the economic recession within the last decade. However, one company touted a hybrid vehicle long before all the others — and they did it in 1899.

Known as the Lohner-Porsches, one of the first concepts by Ferdinand Porsche was a hybrid vehicle that used petroleum products to convert energy into electricity to power a motor. Although it wasn't the most efficient vehicle, it also featured brakes on all four wheels and four-wheel drive.

First 400+ MPH Vehicle

German engineering at its finest helped produce a car projected at being capable of reaching 470 mph. Although it was designed by Porsche for Mercedes-Benz, the Type 80 was capable of reaching 340 mph, but could be altered to reach the aforementioned top speed.

To put that in perspective, the first plane capable of flying 470+ miles per hour was the Arado Ar E.530 — and that was in 1940. Unfortunately for the Type 80, World War II began in the latter parts of 1939 and the actual test run was never attempted. However, the car — and all its wondrous engineering — is available for tourists in Porsche's museum located in Stuttgart, Germany.