Ferdinand Alexander “Butzi” Porsche, who designed the iconic Porsche 911 sports car in the early 1960s, died Thursday at the age of 75 in Salzburg, Austria, following a lengthy illness.
He was the eldest son of Ferry Porsche, long the head of the Porsche Company, and the grandson of Ferdinand Porsche, the engineering genius who created the legendary Volkswagen Beetle in the mid-1930s under the auspices of the Third Reich.
“Butzi” Porsche, who joined the family firm in 1958, becoming head of Porsche’s Styling Department in 1962, holding that position until 1972 when he and all other family members resigned their day-to-day management positions as part of a massive change in how the car maker was run.
Following his departure, he establish his own consumer-oriented design studio using the Porsche name, which over the years has become a leader in its field well known for its award winning lines of sunglasses and watches.
During his tenure at the Porsche factory, Butzi also created the shapes of many of Porsche’s best loved and most successful race cars, ranging from the factory’s single-seat open-wheel Formula One entries to the memorable 904 sports racer.
That latter not only is considered one of the most beautiful competition vehicles ever conceived, but also utterly dominated two-seat small displacement racing between 1964 and 1966.
The 904 was likewise unique in that it and Jim Hall’s Chaparral were the first two all fiberglass racers seen in the sport. Much of his design abilities became evident shortly after his arrival in Zuffenhausen, the Stuttgart suburb where Porsche is located.
As a relative youngster he penned the body lines of the four-cylinder T-7 a four-seater who frontal shape would re-appear several years later on the 911.BREAKING NEWS: SPEED SPORT is back in print with a new monthly format! Subscribe for just $24.95. Special offer for former subscribers.