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Ferdinand Alexander Porsche celebrates 75th Birthday

Wed, 08 Dec 2010

One of the most prolific names and designers within the Porsche franchise is celebrating his 75th birthday this week. In honor of this event, CDN brings you a brief summary of his work and life so far.

Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, son of Ferdinand ‘Ferry' Anton Ernst Porsche, was submerged in all things automotive and design related from a young age. As a child, he spent most of his time in his father and grandfather's workshops observing the building of the Porsche brand. 

As Porsche relocated their operations and family to Austria in the early 1940's, Ferdinand attended school in Zell am See. Upon returning to Stuttgart in 1950, he registered at the College of Design in Ulm and, in 1958, he joined the design department of Porsche KG.

While there, his talent quickly became apparent, penning the Type 754 "T7" and 356 Series in quick succession. The Type 754, has widely been accepted for demonstrating the design language that is still evident in Porsches today. Following these successes, he took charge of the management at the Porsche Design Studio in 1962. It was in this position that he created the phenomenon that is the 911. 

Launched at the 1963 Frankfurt motor show to replace the 356, the car was originally billed as the 901, however it saw its name changed to the now familiar 911, in a bid to avoid confusion between that and Peugeot's model, due to their use of the digit-zero-digit naming format. The 911 has become an undisputed global success with the ever continuing refinement and evolution of the unconventional drive train set up, amassing a close and loyal following.

Not only attributed with Porsche's road car success, Ferdinand also played an important role in designing many of the company's most important race cars. He was responsible for penning the Type 804 racer, a car that was victorious on its debut at the 1962 Monaco Grand Prix. The car also enjoyed success on its following two events, however Porsche canned its Formula One program at the end of 1962, citing financial outlay as the major benefactor. 

Porsche decided to focus its attention on GT racing as the comparison and filtration of technology through to road cars was more relative than that of its Formula One cars. This led to the creation of a the widely regarded 904 Carrera GTS racer, which once again fell foul of the same naming issues that blighted the 911.

Ferdinand also founded the Porsche Design Studio in Stuttgart in 1972, whose headquarters relocated to Zelm am See just two years later. The Porsche Design Studio is responsible for the creation of all things Porsche that stray from the automotive sector. Over the decades since its launch, the studio has created numerous accessories for Porsche owners with the diversification growing more over the years. Originally taking in items such as watches and clothing, the label now offers kitchen appliances and headphones. The studio also has collaborated with numerous external clients, creating a further range of goods, from industrial products through to other consumer goods.

Ferdinand remains active within Porsche to this day, as a shareholder in the company he oversaw the development of Porsche AG (Porsche's subsidiary that is responsible for manufacture and production of Porsche models) for many years. In the early 90s, he served as the Chair of the Supervisory Board. He relinquished this role in 2005 and took on the position of Honorary Chair of the Board. In more recent times, he has founded the Porsche Licence and Trading Company, in the aim of making the most of the Porsche brand in sectors that go beyond the automobile.

By John O'Brien