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Erwin Komenda

Erwin Komenda (1904 - 1966) an Austrian, originating from Weyer, was from 1931 to 1966 the chief designer with Porsche. Komenda was the creator of the most recognized automobile shape in the world, the VW Beetle. Komenda also designed the body for the first Porsche sports car, called the Type 356. The Schwimmwagen and Kübelwagen, (World War II military craft) as well as the Porsche 550 "Spyder" were all of Komenda's design, to name but a few. The advocate of streamlined construction was considerably involved in the shaping of Autounion racing cars, Cisitalia Grand Prix cars and of course the iconic Porsche 911.

Personal Information:

Nationality: Austria
Place of residence: Stuttgart (D) and Weyer /Enns (Upper Austria)
Place of birth/date: April 6th, 1904 in Jauern at the Semmering (Austria)
Parents: Franz Komenda (machinist in Weyer) and Leopoldine Komenda, born Wipplinger (upper classes)
Married to Auguste Komenda, born Hauptmann, since 1920
2 children: Ingrid Komenda-Steineck and Erwin Komenda

Special Qualifications:

-Elementary school in Weyer
-Citizen school in Steyr
-1916 -1920: Four year technical college for iron processing in Steyr
-1920: Car construction course with Josef Feldwabel in the trade technological museum Vienna, XX district


1920 -1926: Car bodywork factory in Vienna XX, construction designer

1927 -1929: Steyrer factory, Upper-Austria: Komendas area of responsibility extended from the construction office up to the manufacturing facilities. In Steyr Erwin Komenda came up with the idea of a streamlined small car with rear motor drive. He worked in Steyr with Bela Barenyi and Ferdinand Porsche who was the technical director for Steyrer. Other teammates at Steyrer were Josef Zahradnik, Karl Fröhlich, Karl Wilfert and Josef Kales. Komenda was so innovative that he was promoted to the chief designer of the German Daimler-Benz AG in Sindelfingen. His development project at that time was the Steyr type XXX that got 300 kg lighter than its predecessors by a new Komenda design.

1929 -1931: Chief designer for the test and development department of the Mercedes-Daimler-Benz AG in Stuttgart/Sindelfingen.

1931 -1966: Chief designer and head of the bodywork construction department at the Porsche construction office. Responsible for calculation and development technology.

Erwin Komenda developed the car body for the following vehicles;

VW® Beetle
Wanderer: Porsche® type 7/8
Porsche® NSU und Zündapp prototype
Porsche® type 60 and 60K10 (A Berlin to Rome Race car used in 1939)
Schwimmwagen and Kübelwagen (World War II military craft)
Wood-gas-generator and division tractors
Autounion Race car in cooperation with Josef Mickl
Porsche® 356. 1946 in Gmünd the first idea of the Porsche 356 are documented in a signed in 1948 by Komenda
356-Variantes and Speedster (American Roadster)
Cisitalia Rennwagen
Porsche® 550 Spyder
Porsche® 904 Designed car body material. The vehicle body was made of metal reinforced synthetic resin
Porsche® 911 Leader of the car body development department.
Inventor of the 911 body construction (self-supporting vehicle body)
Komenda also developed the Targa security bow.

Komenda was a man who thought technically but brought forth artistic creations. Over 100 patents show the progressive work of the inventor Erwin Komenda. Komenda was an active worker up to his early death in 1966 from lung cancer. His life's work ended with the development of the great Porsche 911.

Written by Erwin Komenda's granddaughter Dr. Iris Steineck
To learn more about Erwin Komenda please visit

Below are the US Patent drawings for the design of the Beetle body
with Erwin Komenda listed as the inventor.

Click the images for a larger view

US Patent #2,344,092
US Patent #2,344,092
US Patent #2,344,092
US Patent #2,344,092
US Patent #2,344,092
US Patent #2,227,142
US Patent #2,344,092
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