Page 1 of 3 Next >> Ferdinand Porsche was of the firm believe that competing in races was the proving ground for his designs. For this purpose the Prinz Heinrich Trial, named after German emperor Wilhelm II's younger brother and established in 1908, was ideally suited. Unlike events like the French Grand Prix, which attracted purpose-built racing cars, the Prinz Heinrich only allowed four-seater, production car based entries.
The talented young engineer had just become chief engineer at Austro-Daimler, replacing Paul Daimler, who had returned to Stuttgart. The Vienna based company had not fielded an entry in the first Prinz Heinrich but with the route of the 1909 edition running partly through the Austro-Hungarian empire, Austro-Daimler's participation was inevitable. This was more than enough encouragement for Porsche to prepare three cars for the trial.
While the regulations stipulated that production cars had to be used, there was quite a bit of room for modifications. Porsche started out with a standard 28/32 chassis but fitted a larger engine. Two of the cars used the standard chain drive but the third was fitted with a shaft drive. The cars were clothed by Porsche's former employer Jacob Lohner with special bodies that were lighter but nevertheless looked similar to the production equivalents.
Porsche piloted one of the cars himself with the other two handed to company director Eduard Fischer and aristocrat Count Hugo Boos-Waldeck. It was soon clear that the Opel, Mercedes and Benz engineers had been far less conservative than Porsche and had developed thinly disguised racing cars. The Austro-Daimlers were also faced with a handicap system that favoured smaller engines. The three Austrian cars did show great reliability by reaching the finish in one piece. Page 1 of 3 Next >>