F.A Porsche, the Designer of the 911, Dies

Industry News

The grandchild of Prof. Porsche has one car design to his name: the 911.

Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, who died yesterday in Salzburg Austria, was the car designer who entered the pantheons of car design with one car only: the Porsche 911. Next year it will be the 50th anniversary of the legendary sports car, now in its seventh generation. F. A. Porsche was involved only in the development of the very first one, giving it the idiosyncratic shape that was of great significance in cementing the myth.

Porsche was born in Stuttgart on 11 December 1935, the oldest son of Ferry Porsche and grandchild of Prof. Porsche. It was his father who founded Porsche as a car manufacturer after the war. In 1958 he joined the engineering office of Porsche, after studying industrial design, and sculpted the first model of a successor to the 356 model line out of plasticine. In 1962 he took over as head of the Porsche design studio; a year later the Porsche 911 was revealed (then still known as the 901) and although his career in automotive design lasted for only a few more years, he could neither emulate that success nor move up the hierarchy into senior management level.

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In addition to passenger cars, F.A. Porsche, famously known as 'Butzi,' designed famous racing cars such as the Type 804 Formula One racing car and Porsche 904 Carrera GTS. In 1972, the family decided, on orders from its elders, to remove all family members, apart from Ferry Porsche and his sister Louise Piech, from the company's front-line business operations in order to avoid succession battles. Porsche's cousin, and his main rival to lead the company, Ferdinand Piech, joined the mainstream industry by going to work for Audi, while Porsche founded the "Porsche Design Studio."

In doing so, he had cut himself off from the automotive industry, while Piech later returned to lead the Volkswagen group becoming the most important automotive industrialist in the second half of the 20th century. In the last few years he has strengthened his grip and his family control over the Volkswagen Group, of which Porsche is now just another brand. At the same time F.A. Porsche designed, at the Porsche Design Studio he founded in 1972, classic gentlemen's accessories such as watches, spectacles and writing implements.

He also designed under the "Porsche Design" brand a plethora of industrial products, household appliances and consumer durables, but the success and fame of the 911 was never to repeat itself.

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