Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, the designer of the first 911 sports car, died Thursday, April 5 in Salzburg, Austria at 76 years old.
He was born December 11, 1935 to Dorothea and Ferry Porsche, who along with Ferry’s father Ferdinand Porsche, founded the business that grew to become one of the finest sports car manufacturers in the world. Porsche grew up in the auto business at a turbulent time—his grandfather designed the original Volkswagen Beetle for the Nazi regime in Germany as well as the tanks the Germans employed in World War II.
Porsche officials recall “Butzi,” as he was known as a child, and the strong design skills he demonstrated by producing the first Plasticine model of a successor to the 356 series — the 40-to-60-horsepower sports cars the automaker was developing at the time.
The Porsche 911 was a direct descendent of this model, and was unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show for the first time in 1963. The two-door, rear-engine vehicle had large oval headlights and a low front hood. Its sloping teardrop roofline is renowned for its simplicity, and it gives the car an iconic silhouette that the current model still adheres to over half a century later.