Ferdinand Alexander ‘Butzi’ Porsche leaves 911 as his legacy

Article by Christian Andrei, on April 11, 2012

Ferdinand Alexander "Butzi" Porsche, designer of the Porsche 911, died last week at the age of 76 years old. He was one of the grandsons of the maker of the original Volkswagen vehicle -- Ferdinand Porsche. He was considered to be nothing like Ferdinand Piech, who is his single-minded, intense cousin and also a grandson of Ferdinand Porsche.

The cousins both started their careers after college at Porsche AG, which is the family business founded by Ferry Porsche, the father of Butzi. However, Butzi seemed to have no burning personal ambition which his cousin had. Also, he almost had no taste for the business politics that went with it. Piech became a renowned engineer.

He operated Volkswagen and Audi. Presently, he is chairman of VW's supervisory board, which owns a portion of Porsche. It was Butzi, however, who was the original genius in the family. In 1961, at the age of 25 years old, Butzi developed the design for the 901 road automobile, which is the successor to the Porsche 356.

It would later on become known as the 911 and will be eternally regarded as Butzi's handiwork. Aside from the 911, he also designed the 904 race vehicle. He would constantly be cast as the rival of Ferdinand Piech. The 911 was a work of art. Butzi designed a vehicle that would not lose the amazing stylishness that he had created while it goes through various technical enhancements in the next 50 years.

Without the 911, it would be difficult to imagine what Porsche AG would have become. However, the success of the 911 seemed to stir up the competition between Butzi and Piech. During the 1960s, Butzi and his younger brother Peter Porsche continuously argued with Piech on engineering strategies.

As a result, Ferry Porsche expelled all third-generation members from the management team in 1971. He made a decision that Porsche would be converted into a joint stock company operated by non-family managers. Butzi ultimately established Porsche Design, the Austrian company that manufactured watches and other products sporting the Porsche logo such as high-tech spectacle frames, TV sets and pens.

The sense of rivalry did not cease though. Piech mentioned a few years ago that Butzi, as a designer, was "never in the race for the top" and that he was "happy designing." Piech added that he had to support Butzi most of the time in the Porsche company since ""he had no interest in running a company." He further stated that Butzi was "never ready with his design."

He related that Butzi "never wanted" to release his design so that one could create a prototype. However, the 911 design of Butzi may have been the crucial moment in the life of Ferdinand Piech. Some people believe that Piech has spent all of his career and life trying to equal what his cousin accomplished at a young age.

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