Ferdinand Alexander Porsche — who designed the classic 911 in the 1960s that has defined the shape of seven generations of Porsche’s signature 911 sports cars since then died today in Austria at the age of 76, the company announced.
He was was the grandson of Dr. Ferdinand Porsche, founder of the company in the 1930s.
His design with the low flat hood, bulging headlights and fastback roof remains the basic form for the current 911s and even lives on today in key design cues for Porsche vehicles as different from the sports car as the Panamera four-door sedan and the Cayenne SUV.
“The creator of the Porsche 911 has founded a culture of design in our company that distinguishes our sports cars even today,” Porsche CEO Matthias Mueller told the Associated Press today.
Ferdinand Alexander Porsche with the 1963 Porsche 901 (t8) he designed — later renamed the 911 because of a trademark issue with Peugeot (1990 photo released by Porsche).
Details from the AP obituary on the man and his design philosophy:
Porsche was the son of former Porsche Chairman Ferry Porsche, who died in 1998, and the grandson of Dr. Ferdinand Porsche, who started the company as a design and engineering firm in the 1930s.
Born in Stuttgart on Dec. 11, 1935, F.A. Porsche was initiated into the family business while still a boy, spending time in his grandfather’s workshops and design facilities. He studied at the Hochschule fuer Gestaltung in Ulm and joined the company in 1958, taking over the design studio in 1962.
In the 911, he created a larger, less cramped replacement for the company’s first model, the four-cylinder Porsche 356. The new car, with a rear-mounted, six-cylinder engine, was originally designated the 901, but the number was changed because French competitor Peugeot claimed a patent on car names formed with a zero in the middle.
Porsche left the operational part of the company with other family members in the early 1970s and in 1972 founded a design business, Porsche Design Studio, where he created eyeglasses, watches and pens.
As a designer, he had a reputation as a functionalist.
“A formally harmonious product needs no decoration, it should be elevated through pure form,” he once said — a motto reflected in the lean lines of the 911.
He served as chairman of Porsche from 1990 to 1993 and helped steer the family firm through a crisis as sales plunged in the late 1980s under pressure from global competition and a strong German mark that hindered exports.
Under his chairmanship, the company brought in a new CEO, Wendelin Wiedeking, who is credited with turning the company around as a business.
Porsche was to be buried in a private ceremony in the chapel at Schuettgut, the Porsche family’s estate in Zell am See, Austria.