Ferdinand Porsche developed the single-axle power horse – the so-called “Daimler Pferd” (German for horse) or “officially” the Austro-Daimler KP II – in the latter years of the First World War. It served as the driving axle in the front end and served as a replacement for the horses, which had already become rare at that time. The mechanical horse pulled field kitchens, small to medium-heavy cannons and guns in the war zones in Galicia and Italy.
In the final version of 1917, the towing vehicle was steered via the towing coupling between the engine section and the trailer. The young designer Karl Rabe successfully implemented the idea of extendable grip buckets on the wheels. The grippers could be extended through slots in the wheel rims by means of a sophisticated mechanism.
An air-cooled 1711cc four-cylinder (bore x stroke 66 x 125 mm) with 14.5 hp at 1400 rpm powered the car. Valve timing was “changeover controlled”, with the intake valves suspended from the cylinder head and the exhaust valves positioned laterally.
Cooling air was supplied by a centrifugal fan on the front crankshaft stub to the cylinders, which were fitted with cooling fins. The drive unit was intentionally kept compact and torsion-resistant by extending both halves of the aluminium crankcase far to the rear and also including the clutch and gearbox and differential with built-in lock. The necessary steering movement was provided by an articulated connection between the towing head and the towing load.
After the end of the war, the “Daimler Horse” was mainly used in agriculture as a front ploughing attachment. The vehicle could be started on gasoline and then switched to kerosene; a fuel that was 40 percent cheaper at the time.
A replica of the “Austro-Daimler Horse” can currently be seen in the Ferdinand Porsche Erlebniswelten fahr(T)raum in Mattsee/Salzburg. In addition, an extensive special exhibition on the history of the Austrian automobile brand Austro Daimler in Ferdinand Porsche’s time awaits you during a visit of the classic car museum.
Ludvigsen, Karl (2010): Ferdinand Porsche – Genesis eines Genies, S. 212-217.
Bilder, © fahr(T)raum, Taro Ebihara