Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, who designed the first Porsche 911 and later established the successful Porsche Design Studio, died this week in Salzburg, Austria, at age 76. Born in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1935, he was the grandson of the firm's founder, Ferdinand Porsche, and spent a good deal of his childhood years in the engineering offices and development workshops of the then-fledgling company before officially joining the automaker as an engineer in 1958. In 1962, he was appointed head of Porsche design operations, and one year later unveiled the iconic Porsche 901 - which became the 911 when it went into production - at the 1963 Frankfurt Auto Show.
In addition to designing street cars, Ferdinand Alexander Porsche also was responsible for a number of the automaker's primo competition machines, including the Type 804 Formula One car and the Porsche 904 Carrera GTS sports racer. In 1972, a formal reorganization of the company saw Porsche stand down from day-to-day operations and establish his own Porsche Design Studio in Stuttgart. However, he retained strong ties with Porsche AG, contributing to the design of many other Porsche sports cars as well as serving as a member of the firm's Supervisory Board. He was instrumental in helping craft the company's successful 2005 financial turnaround and remained on as the Board's Honorary President until his passing.
Matthias Müller, president and chief executive officer of Porsche AG, paid tribute to Ferdinand Alexander Porsche noting: "As the creator of the Porsche 911, he established a design culture in our company that has shaped our sports cars to this very day. His philosophy of good design is a legacy to us that we will honor for all time."