Car Designer Ferdinand Porsche Dead at 76

Legendary sports car designer Ferdinand Porsche (yes, that Porsche) died today at the age of 76 in Salzburg, Austria.

Ferdinand (nicknamed “Butzi”) Porsche was born into the auto business, with his grandfather having designed the original Volkswagen Beetle for the Nazis of all people (and even some tanks used by the regime in WWII). But it was Ferdinand who designed the 911 sports car (the original Porsche), and the company that is so well known today. He also made a comeback to help the company through an economic slump from 1990 through 1993, and served as honorary president of its supervisory board until his death.

“There has not been a single individual whose contribution to the Porsche brand over the decades since the ’60’s has been greater than that of Ferdinand ‘Butzi’ Porsche,” said Mike Sullivan, who owns the Porsche dealership in Torrance. “His iconic design of the original 911 has elevated Porsche to the top of the automotive world.” Sullivan continued, singling out the 911 sports car, saying that it “has singularly dominated sports car racing for most of the last 40 years as well as making Porsche the world’s most profitable auto manufacturer.”

“He established a design culture in our company that has shaped our sports car to this very day,” said Matthias Muller, chief executive of Porsche AG. “His philosophy of good design is a legacy to us that we will honor for all time.”

“Every designer has tremendous respect for Butzi’s influence. His work underscored the proof that small, passionate teams can accomplish great things,” said said Stewart Reed, Chairman of Transportation Design at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. He added that Porsche’s work has had a global influence.

Though he remained busy throughout the rest of his life, Ferdinand Porsche’s kingdom and legacy is built on one design put to paper over four decades ago. “A product that is coherent in form requires no embellishment. It is enhanced by the purity of its form,” Porsche said of his design work. “Good design should be honest.”

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