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356 to 911: Porsche’s Troublesome Transition

Karl Ludvigsen shares his views and those of others on the transition from the 356 to the 911 and the later campaign to release the 911 from the threat of the 928

Butzi Porsche, right, had every reason to claim authorship of the 911. But it was Heinrich Klie, left, who actually modelled its fastback lines when Butzi demurred.

In the late 1950s, while senior engineers at Porsche struggled through studies for a successor to the 356, a new generation of Porsche family members was entering the business. Ferry Porsche’s eldest son, Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, joined the family firm in 1957. Butzi Porsche—as he was known—spent his first nine months at Zuffenhasuen working with veteran Franz Reimspeiss learning the details of the four-cam Carrera engine. From there he moved over to Erwin Komenda’s department to gather knowledge about car bodies.

Ferry’s idea of having his son learn many parts of the business was good. But putting Komenda and Butzi in the same room was like mixing matter and anti-matter. Erwin Komenda was of the old school. He was an engineer with decades of hands-on experience in sketching, designing and building car bodies and related components. Butzi on the other hand saw himself as a Bauhaus-educated stylist whose inherited skills descended from decades of experience earned by his illustrious forebears.

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