For as much as we talk about barn finds, the window of time for such vehicles tends to be measured in a few decades; any more than that and the ravages of time and memory tend to destroy anything so long abandoned. On Monday, Porsche revealed that it had recently acquired the barn find of the century — the first car ever designed by founder Ferdinand Porsche, which hit the roads of Austria in 1898, and has been locked away untouched for the past 112 years.
The car in question doesn't look like much more than a horse buggy, but in its day was a technological feat. Designed by Ferdinand Porsche at the age of 22, the car was known as the Egger-Lohner, but also dubbed the P1 by its creator, who engraved that code on its major parts. Powered by a 3-hp electric motor in the rear driving a 12-speed control unit, the 2,977-lb. P1 could reach 21 mph, and travel 49 miles on a charge. The body, which no longer exists, could be easily altered from a coupe to a open-top style.
After its first drive on June 26, 1898, Porsche continued developing the car, and in September 1899 won a 24-mile electric-car race with three passengers, finishing 18 minutes ahead of the next challenger. Porsche would go on to work for Mercedes and other German automakers; it wouldn't be until 1948 that he would found his own automaker.
Porsche has declined to reveal details about how it found the car or how the P1 managed to exist in an unrestored state this long; a spokesman told Yahoo Autos that the person who uncovered it wished to remain anonymous. The vehicle will now live at Porsche's museum in Stuttgart, Germany — and with it, the mystery of how it survived the 20th century.
- Ferdinand Porsche