Karl Rabe

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Karl Rabe (born October 29, 1895 in Pottendorf , Lower Austria, † October 28, 1968 in Korntal-Münchingen near Stuttgart ) was an Austrian designer for Porsche .


Karl Rabe was born as the only son of the script painter Karl Rabe and passed the high school diploma in Wiener Neustadt in June 1913 with distinction. In the same year, on October 13, 1913, he joined the design office of the Austrian Daimler-Motoren-Aktiengesellschaft ( Austro Daimler ) in Wiener Neustadt, where for the first time he reported to the then technical director and later general director Ferdinand Porsche .

Ferdinand Porsche soon recognized the extraordinary talent of the young designer and very soon entrusted him with special tasks, with Karl Rabe working in particular on heavy tractors with gasoline-electric drives, trucks, aircraft engines , tractors with air-cooled engines for agriculture and, during the First World War, on special artillery -Tractors worked.


As early as April 8, 1919, due to his services, he was appointed head of the passenger car construction department of the Austro Daimler design office and in this capacity, in addition to several car models, he has in particular the 1100 cc and 1500 cc racing cars of the Sascha type and the 1922 Targa Florio could finish victoriously, as well as developed the first Austro Daimler six-cylinder swing-axle car. After Ferdinand Porsche moved to Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft in Stuttgart-Untertürkheim as technical director , Karl Rabe took over the overall technical management of Austro Daimler in Wiener Neustadt in 1923. With his development of the Austro Daimler type ADR, he implemented a completely new design concept in the construction of the chassis , which caused an international stir.

Karl Rabe switched to Steyr-Werke in Upper Austria on December 1, 1927 , where he met Ferdinand Porsche again when he joined the Steyr-Werke on January 1, 1929 as a member of the board. Here, too, the two new Steyr car types, the 8-cylinder type “Austria” and the 6-cylinder middle class type 30, which later became the very successful Steyr 220 type, were developed in a very short time.


When Ferdinand Porsche opened an independent design and development office in Stuttgart in January 1931, it was almost a matter of course that Karl Rabe would follow him there and take the position of chief designer at Dr.-Ing. hc F. Porsche GmbH took over. Karl Rabe held this position until his retirement in 1965. In the newly founded Porsche design office, numerous wide-ranging new designs were created, in which Karl Rabe played a key role. Particular mention should be made of:

  • The Auto Union racing car designed as a mid-engine vehicle with 16-cylinder engine and torsion bar suspension,
  • a six-cylinder mid-range sedan and an in-line eight-cylinder engine for hikers,
  • the Volkswagen ,
  • various aircraft engines,
  • small tractors for agriculture,
  • the all-wheel-drive VW off-road and floating vehicles and
  • Engines for armored vehicles.

During the war-related relocation from September 1944 until his return to Stuttgart in the summer of 1950, Karl Rabe headed the design and development office of Dr.-Ing. hc F. Porsche KG in Gmünd in Carinthia . During this time the Porsche sports car type 356, the 12-cylinder Cisitalia Grand Prix racing car with selectable four-wheel drive, water turbines, winches for mountain farmers and tractor developments for the Göppingen agricultural machinery manufacturer Allgaier were created .

After Ferdinand Porsche's death in 1951, chief engineer Karl Rabe remained closely associated with the Porsche company as chief designer and authorized signatory under the management of his son and successor Ferry Porsche . In addition to the further development of the Porsche sports car types, Karl Rabe also worked on the construction of stationary engines and the well-known air-cooled Porsche diesel tractors, which were manufactured from 1956 to 1963 by Porsche-Diesel-Motorenbau GmbH Friedrichshafen on Lake Constance, as well as numerous Contract developments for domestic and foreign automobile manufacturers make a significant contribution.

Retirement and death

In 1965 Karl Rabe, honorary senator of the Technical University of Stuttgart since 1957 , retired, but remained a personal technical advisor to Ferry Porsche until his death. Karl Rabe died on October 28, 1968 in Korntal-Münchingen near Stuttgart, one day before his 73rd birthday. Karl Rabe was married and had three sons. One of his sons, Heinz, was also employed at Porsche as HR manager for many years.

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