Porsche posters (1961–1969)
Of the posters published by Porsche in the 1960s, many feature Folio as the main typeface. Folio, or Folio-Grotesk, was designed by Walter Baum and Konrad F. Bauer and released by the Bauer foundry in Frankfurt/Main, starting with the schmalfett (extrabold condensed) in 1956, and ending with the breit leicht (wide light) in 1969.
The predominant style used on the posters is the breit halbfett (Medium Extended), first cast in 1959. This style was available as foundry type in sizes up to 60 pt. It looks like this didn’t cut it for the Porsche designers: several posters show letterforms that are much bigger, and appear to be drawn or cut by hand, introducing small deviations in the way the curves and counters are shaped. Apart from the size, working with photographic or manual enlargements and paste-ups also removed any limitations in regard to spacing: letters and lines are often tightly set, something that would not have been possible when working with type directly.
Most of the shown posters are works by Erich Strenger, born 1922 in Bad Canstatt, Stuttgart. In 1942, while studying at the Stuttgart Academy in the class of F.H. Ernst Schneidler, Strenger was drafted to fight in World War II. He was taken prisoner and had to stay in Russia till 1949. Soon after he returned to his hometown, he met Richard von Frankenberg (1922–1973) who was busy establishing Porsche’s marketing department at the time. Strenger started designing posters for Porsche in 1951, and became a long-time contributor to their Christophorus customer magazine which Frankenberg launched in 1952. Strenger retired in 1987, and died in 1993. In 2017, Delius Klasing published a monograph edited by Mats Kubiak, titled Erich Strenger und Porsche: Ein grafischer Bericht. See more Porsche factory posters in Kevin Pickell’s vast collection at scale18.com.
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3 Comments on “Porsche posters (1961–1969)”
Reader M. asks about the typeface used for the Porsche logo. The short answer: not a font.
The Porsche logo was conceived by Erich Strenger, too. The custom wordmark featuring ultra-extended monolinear caps was introduced in 1952. It’s still in use today, in a revised form drawn by Kurt Weidemann in the early 1990s. Like Strenger, Weidemann was born in 1922 and studied at the Stuttgart Academy, albeit later, under Schneidler’s successor Walter Brudi. From a booklet compiled by Kaja Wilhelm at Muthesius-Kunsthochschule (translated):
In order to improve legibility on moving objects, Weidemann opened the bowls of the letters P and R to extend beyond the center line of the letters, increased the slant of the R’s leg, made the horizontals in E and S thinner, and also shortened the horizontals in the S somewhat, and reduced the width of the H. He explained that he made the Porsche logo a lot higher because the old one looked “as if a truck had driven over it five times. Actually, I made it even higher so I could then get it negotiated down to the height I wanted.” He also changed Porsche’s then untouchable house color from a dark Bordeaux red to a slightly lighter red, explaining to decision-makers at the time: “Do you know the difference between arterial and venous blood? Venous blood is darker, flows more slowly and carries away all the harmful substances. Arterial blood, on the other hand, is lighter in color, flows quickly and is rich in oxygen. What are you actually selling, gentlemen?” Because Porsche AG did not have enough money at the time, Weidemann received a car from the Carrera 4 series as payment at his own request. Even though Kurt Weidemann handed this car over to his son and took the bus and train instead.
Weidemann’s polemic style helped him to sell his work. And the old logo with the small counters and extreme proportions is indeed not ideal for readability. What Weidemann didn’t mention is that Strenger was well aware of the limitations. When the size or other circumstances asked for less extreme letterforms, Strenger simply used an adjusted version with less wide proportions – as early as 1952.
In his monograph, Mats Kubiak credits Strenger with the brand color as well (translated):
Georg Ledert, former head of advertising at Porsche, recalls: “Erich Strenger introduced the Porsche red, this Bordeaux red. Four-color printing was simply too expensive at the time and out of the question. When Strenger found this red as a residual stock of ink at a print shop in the Stuttgart area, he immediately bought up all remaining pots, and had letterheads, covers and operating manuals printed in this red. […]” To this day, the HKS17 color can be found in the corporate design as the Porsche brand’s corporate color.
There are a number of fonts that can be used to emulate the Porsche logo. None of them is a perfect match in all details, and the answer to which one comes closest depends on which logo variant you want to match. Shown below are a few options.
There are more extrawide typefaces that one could list here, but one design that should be included is Zürich. It was drawn by Alex Stocker and Hans Gruber and reproduced in the first volume of Lettera, published in 1954. Later adaptations are also known as Aggie and Astrid. Unlike Strenger’s Porsche logo, Zürich has angular counters and a short middle bar in E.