Why is this century-old Sascha Austro-Daimler Important to Porsche?

In 1922, the Austro-Daimler ADS R “Sascha” won the historic class at the Targa Florio. Ferdinand Porsche, then Head of Development and Production at Austro-Daimler, designed the car, which turned out to be one of the most significant cars for the German automaker.

Porsche shares its vision of building small cars in large numbers at low prices with Count Alexander “Sascha” Joseph von Kolowrat-Krakowsky, partner at Austro-Daimler. But the board wasn’t interested in the idea, so Porsche decided to build a competitive sports car for lucrative publicity. Funded by Kolowrat, Porsche named it “Sascha” with four prototypes sent to the mountains of Sicily to compete in the Targa Florio.

The 1,318-pound (598 kilogram) Sascha is powered by a water-cooled 1.1-liter inline-four engine with two overhead camshafts, producing about 50 metric horsepower. There are bigger and more powerful entries in the Targa Florio, but Sascha’s excellent weight distribution and power-to-weight ratio make it competitive not only in its class but overall.

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The results are historic. After 268 miles (432 kilometers), 6,000 laps and an incline of 12.5 percent, Sascha won in the smallest displacement class, taking first and second place. The leading Austro-Daimler ADS R ranks 19th in the overall rankings against larger competitors who produce four to five times as much power.

The win wasn’t enough for Austro-Daimler to give the production version of the small car the go-ahead, which led Porsche to leave the company and eventually found Dr. Ing. hc F Porsche AG in 1931.

The 100-year-old Austro-Daimler ADS R “Sascha” wasn’t built under Porsche AG, but was one of the turning points that paved the way for the company’s foundation. And in celebration of the centenary of his historic triumph in Italy, the Porsche Heritage and Museum department restored one living example, bringing it back to its former glory.

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