Porsche, designer of Porsche 911, dead

April 6, 2012 at 11:03 AM
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SALZBURG, Austria, April 6 (UPI) -- Ferdinand A. Porsche, the designer of the Porsche 911, has died in Salzburg, Austria, Porsche A.G. announced. He was 76. No cause of death was given.

Porsche, the grandson of the founder of the company with headquarters near Stuttgart, Germany, joined the family business in 1958, The New York Times reported.

Porsche learned about engine construction, aerodynamics and body styling -- lessons he would apply after his father, Ferry Porsche, decided to create a replacement for the Porsche 356, which had been introduced in 1948.

The younger Porsche, known as F.A., completed the design for the replacement prototype, introduced at an auto show in 1963 as the 901 (changed to 911 after the company learned Peugeot had a claim on three-number designations for passenger cars with a zero between the digits).

The 911 was a bit longer and narrower than the 356 and more powerful, with a six-cylinder instead of four-cylinder engine, and had more legroom, more rear seat space and larger doors. The 911 was also sleeker.

"Design must be functional and functionality must be translated into visual aesthetics, without any reliance on gimmicks that have to be explained," Porsche had said.

The 911 won instant popularity and has never been replaced. It is now in its seventh version after nearly a half-century, with the price starting at more than $80,000.

Porsche had left the car company in 1972 and started Porsche Design, taking the brand to luggage, sunglasses, pens, cuff links and other items. He returned to the parent company and served as chairman from 1990 to 1993.

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