It’s a warm, sunny day, and you can take out any car you want for a drive. If I had my druthers today, that would be me behind the wheel of this 1911 Austro Daimler 22/86 “Prinz Heinrich. It was perhaps Ferdinand Porsche’s most important design, as it established a line of high-performance cars that culminated in the mighty Mercedes SS/SSK/SSKL line in the 1920s.Why did I think of it? Because I’m in the throes of researching and writing an in-depth history of the hemi head engine, and needless to say, the Prinz Heinrich plays an important role.
In my research, I came across one of the chapters of Karl Ludvigsen’s biography of Porsche, “The Genesis of Genius”, which covers his early years from 1900 to 1933. Ludvigsen’s impeccable research and vivid writing not only brought unexpected insight into my subject, but reminded me what an absolutely brilliant car this was. Porsche recognized that aerodynamic drag was the critical barrier to high speed, and every detail of this car has been aerodynamically optimized, down to the axle, the headlights, its full belly-pan, and even a tail cone. This car, rightfully called “the first sports car” was capable of an easy 140 kmh (87 mph), and I’d like to prove it for myself today.
What automotive fantasy would you indulge today?