Yesterday, in Salzburg, Austria, Ferdinand Alexander Porsche passed away at the age of 76. F.A., as he was known by his colleagues, or “Butzi,” to his friends, was the grandson of Ferdinand Porsche, who founded the timeless sports car firm in 1931. That Ferdinand and his son “Ferry” were both engineers, but F.A. never entered the field, focusing instead on the design aspect of car building.
He studied industrial design for a year, but was kicked out of his school for lack of potential. So he went back to the family business and started training in-house. His father Ferry, who came up with the beautiful Porsche 356, challenged him to design its successor. The result was one of the two cars F.A. designed for Porsche, and though they were both beautiful and fast, it became one of the most iconic sports cars in history: the 911.
Here are 9 masterpieces we’d never get to enjoy had Butzi never been born.
1963 Porsche 911 The Ur-911, or 901 as it was known until a naming dispute broke out with Peugeot, was not known for its power. Its 2 liter flat-six only made about 128 hp, but the quick-witted and organic handling, courtesy of the RR layout, made it an instant legend, favored by the likes of Steve McQueen, among others.
1964 Porsche 904 F.A.’s other car design, the 904, was built purely for racing, but Porsche handmade 106 of them to meet homologation standards. Its 3.6 liter flat four
churned out 198 hp and pushed the mid-engine beauty to victories at the Targa Florio, the Nurburgring, and Le Mans, to name a few.
1973 Porsche Carrera Rennsport With the 911’s success, several high performance variants soon came into play. One of the most notable was the 1973 Carrera RS, which stands for Rennsport, which means “Race sport.” An apt name for this monster, which, like the 904, was built just for homologation. Its 2.7 liter flat six only produced 210 hp,
but the racer weighed just a smidge over 1 ton, and could get to 60 in just 5.7 seconds. Not bad for 1973.
1975 Porsche 911 Turbo (930) Porsche’s first foray into forced induction proved a success, both on the street and the race track. It was the 930 that first incorporated the famous “whale tail,” and the iconic shape became a symbol of wealth and power in the money-flushed 1980s. Though the 930 enjoyed a production run until 1989, it wasn’t until that final year that Porsche upgraded its 4-speed transmission to a 5-speed.
1976 Porsche 934 Another homologation special, the 934 was a more powerful version of the 930, incorporating the turbo and tuned to an insane 485 hp. Only 31 examples were
produced, which probably saved a few lives. The 934 only weighed about 2500 lbs.
2012 RUF CTR3 If Porsche is a family, RUF’s works are sortof the half-cousins-once-removed. Technically, the CTR3 hypercar isn’t even a Porsche, but it took its original design from a modern Carrera GT. Read all about it here.
RAUH-Welt Begriff 911s RWB is the only tuner to make our list, mostly because we think Butzi would approve of Nakai-san’s unique and hedonist take on customization. Known for their massive homages to the whale tail, their mad tuning, and their extremely wide stance, the RAUH-Welt works are nearly as unforgettable as the original designs
2010 Porsche 997 GT2 RS A tribute to the original Rennsport, the GT2 RS cranks out 620 hp via its twin turbocharged 3.6 liter flat six. It has a power to weight ratio of 435 hp per ton, which is frankly a little insane. Top Gear magazine called it one of the scariest Porsches ever, able to get to 60 in 3.4 seconds, to 124 mph in less than ten, and eventually
topping out at 205 mph. It’s a true Porsche supercar, but it’s rear-engine, and most fighter jets can’t even claim that.
1996 Porsche 911 GT1 Granted, this is a bit of a stretch, both literally and figuratively, in its relation Butzi’s original 911. But it certainly deserves a nod, since you can see it here pacing the Fastest Car in the World at Le Mans. It used its 592 hp, 3.2 liter, twin turbocharged flat six to get all the way to 235 mph. It took Le mans in 1998, 34 years after F.A.’s 904 won the same victory.
Though he only designed two cars, F.A. went on to pen watches, trains, and everything in between in his design firm. His genius lives on today with the 991 series of the 911 (we know it’s confusing, but we don’t do the naming), which retains the basic shape, layout, and aerodynamic capabilities as the original 1963 car.
But this isn’t an exhaustive list. What other 911 variants would you add to F.A.’s monumental legacy?