Motoring art: Erich Strenger

| 30 Jan 2024
Classic & Sports Car – Motoring art: Erich Strenger

From 1951-’88, brilliant graphic designer Erich Strenger was a key figure in Porsche’s history.

Without Strenger’s work for its brochures, adverts, manuals, posters and the famous in-house magazine, the visual identity of Porsche would be very different.

Appropriately, Strenger was born in Stuttgart, and developed an early interest in photography and art.

Classic & Sports Car – Motoring art: Erich Strenger

The Porsche 917’s victory at the 1970 1000km of Spa called for an Erich Strenger poster

He pursued his design interest and specialised in repro-photography, but in 1942 Strenger was drafted into the army.

He served all over Europe before being dispatched to the Russian front.

After his capture, Strenger ended the war in a PoW camp and was released in 1949.

Sports cars were rare around Stuttgart during the early post-war years, and the sighting of a new red Porsche 356 really impressed Strenger.

Classic & Sports Car – Motoring art: Erich Strenger

Strenger’s style didn’t rely on cars; inspiration came from stopwatches, flags, helmets and more


By chance, in 1951 he met Richard von Frankenberg, Porsche’s marketing man, at a ‘Miss Cover Girl’ contest in a local cinema.

Von Frankenberg had just started racing, and the two enthusiasts bonded over their mutual admiration for the 356.

Strenger’s design talents were first employed with a hand-drawn 356 coupé for a brochure cover, but work rapidly increased, including designing the Porsche logo that remains little changed today.

Von Frankenberg and Strenger also instigated the in-house magazine, Christophorus, with Strenger as editor in chief.

Classic & Sports Car – Motoring art: Erich Strenger

From endurance legends to rally-ready 911s, Strenger’s artwork captures Porsche’s various motorsport exploits

Strenger’s most famous work for Porsche was his involvement with Fritz Huschke von Hanstein, the dapper team manager, who from 1951 commissioned a series of victory posters.

To maximise the impact of racing success, von Hanstein wanted the posters printed and in showrooms on the Monday after a race weekend, so the pressure was on for Strenger, who was paid DM1000 for each edition.

To meet the deadline, the designer would listen to radio race reports and, on hearing Porsche had won, he’d work all night to present a design idea to von Hanstein the next morning.

Classic & Sports Car – Motoring art: Erich Strenger

Julius Weitmann’s photographs often appeared in Strenger’s designs

These poster commissions continued through four decades and allowed Strenger’s creativity to flourish.

From early sketches of winning 356s to polarised images of the mighty Can-Am titans, Strenger used a bold range of styles to celebrate racing glory.

Inspired devices went well beyond photography of the winning car, with Strenger employing maps, stopwatches, flags, helmets and trophies to capture the event.

Photographer Julius Weitmann was an enthusiastic associate, whose images were regularly used by Strenger but often printed with bold graphic effects.

Classic & Sports Car – Motoring art: Erich Strenger

Strenger’s striking art celebrated Porsche’s success at events around the world

Raising the funds to buy his first 356 was an anxious decision in the early days, but Strenger’s design success later led to a series of impressive Porsche road cars, including an uprated 914/6 M471, which was painted Tangerine and known as ‘The Strenger GT’.

When new management took over Porsche in 1988, Strenger chose to retire.

He moved to Mallorca with his wife, Ursula, to indulge his passions for sailing and painting, specialising in abstract Op art.

Retirement proved too short when Strenger died in 1993, but he left an amazing legacy.

Not surprisingly, original Strenger posters are now highly collectible among fans.

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