Ferdinand Alexander ‘Butzi’ Porsche has died at the age of 76.
The eldest son of Ferry and grandson of company founder Ferdinand Porsche, he was born in 1935. Butzi, as he was known, joined the family business in ’57, becoming head of the styling studio in ’61. In his autobiography his father wrote the shape of the 911 “was entirely his [Butzi’s] idea”.
But it was another car, the Carrera GTS or 904 road racer that Butzi always cited as his favourite. Conceived at short notice, its sleek lines showed Butzi’s talent for styling at its absolute best.
But any hope that the reins of the family irm might be handed down evaporated when Butzi left in ’72 to found his own design company, Porsche Design, producing everything from wrist watches to sunglasses and pens. He retired in 2005 because of ill health, but remained an honorary member of its supervisory board until his death. He had left the board of Porsche itself in ’93 when the arrival of Wendelin Weideking transferred the balance of power to the Piech side of the Porsche family.
His legacy is obvious. Though not an engineer like his father and grandfather, it is for creating the greatest, most enduring sports car in history that he will always be remembered. His idea of a compact, rear-engined coupe seems as fresh now as it did over half a century ago when he irst started sketching the 911.