Ferdinand Karl “Burli” Piëch (1937-2019)


Background:
Ferdinand Porsche's lawyer Anton Piëch became his son-in-law in 1928 and a business partner in 1931 when they together with racing driver Adolf Rosenberger established the Porsche company. The initial shares were as follows: 80% F. Porsche (born 1875, age 55), 10% A. Piëch (born 1894, age 36), 10% A. Rosenberger (born 1900, age 31).

1937 April 17, Ferdinand Karl Piëch was born in Vienna, Austria, as the third child of Anton Piëch and Louise Hedwig Anna Wilhelmine Maria Piëch (born Porsche) and as a grandson of Ferdinand Porsche.
On May 28, the predecessor to Volkswagen, Gezuvor, was established, with grandfather Ferdinand Porsche as the head engineer and member of the board.

1941 Father Anton Piëch became head of the Volkswagenwerk, the factory that produced the Porsche designed VW Kübelwagens and Schwimmwagens for the army.

ca 1942. Grandfather Ferdinand Porsche, brother Ernst Piëch, sister Louise Piëch and mother Louise Piëch-Porsche. Ferdinand Piëch (nicknamed "Burli") is sitting on the grass on the left.© Porsche

1942 Brother Hans-Michel Piëch was born.

1945 December 15, father Anton Piëch, grandfather Ferdinand Porsche and uncle Ferry Porsche were arrested and imprisoned by French as war criminals.

1946 July, uncle Ferry was released from jail to bring money to bail out the others.

1947 August 1, father and grandfather were liberated.

1948 First Porsche, the 356/1 Roadster, was created by uncle Ferry Porsche's team.

1948 autumn (or 1949), Burli standing on the left behind the first 356/2 Coupé© Porsche
1949. Cousin Ferdinand Alexander "Butzi" Porsche, grandfather Ferdinand Porsche and young Ferdinand Karl "Burli" Piëch. Both young boys were to become serious players in the future.© Porsche

1951 January 30, grandfather and engineering genius Ferdinand Porsche died.

1952 September 11, father Anton Piëch died.

1952-1958 Burli studied at the Lyceum Alpinum Zuoz in Switzerland.

1962 F. K. Piëch graduated the ETH Zürich Institute of Technology in Switzerland with a degree in mechanical engineering having written the master's thesis about the development of an F1 engine.

1963 April 1, Piëch started working at Porsche, a company founded by his grandfather and co-founded by his father.

Piëch with his uncle Ferry Porsche discussing the new 6-cylinder engine for the 901 (911)© Porsche
Porsche 901/911 development team: Karl Ruoff, Richard Hetmann, Leopold Jäntschke, Erich Stotz, Robert Binder, Rudolf Hofmann, Hans Herzog, Hans Hönick, Xaver Reimspieß, Alfred Kühn, Theo Bauer, Heinrich Klie, Edgar Tengler, Walter Payerbach, Erwin Komenda, Wilhelm Albrecht, Gottlob Sturm, Gerhard Schröder, Karl Mozelt, Hans Mezger, Ernst Weyersberg, Kurt Knörzer, Karl Metzger, Hans Martens, Helmuth Bott, Adolf Schneider, Herbert Linge, Schilling, Eberhard Stortz, Helmut Rombold, Hans Tomala, Ferdinand Piëch, Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, Ferry Porsche.© Porsche
Former racing driver, Porsche's press director and racing manager Fritz Huschke von Hanstein with Ferdinand Piëch at the 1965 Targa Florio where Porsche scored second after a Ferrari© Porsche

1966 Piëch became the head of testing. He was also the main force behind the Porsche 906 Carrera 6 introduced in January. Piëch's idea was to create ultralight racing cars. The 2-litre 6-cylinder 906 weighed only 617 kg / 1360 lbs. Two evolutions of 906 were also made, the fuel-injected 906 E and the 2.2-litre 8-cylinder 906/8.

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1966 May 8, Targa Florio winning 906 Carrera 6 #148 driven by Herbert Müller/Willy Mairesse © Porsche

The 906 was a street-legal car, so it had the 15" 5-bolt wheels, which were not the best for racing as no 15" racing tyres were available. So, 13" central nut Formula 1 wheels with special tyres were adapted, and with smoothed-out exterior design the 910 was born. It was then made in three modifications: 910/6 Targa, 910/8 Targa and the 910/8B "Bergspyder".

1967 Porsche's wave of racing victories started to arrive. The Targa Florio was completely conquered - all podium places to Porsche!

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1967 May 14, Targa Florio Porsche 1-2-3 victory: 1. 910/8 #228 Paul Hawkins/Rolf Stommelen, 2. 910/6 #174 Leo Cella/Giampiero Biscaldi (2-liter class winner), 3. 910/6 #166 Vic Elford/Jochen Neerpasch© Porsche

Porsche proved that it can do better than the 1-2-3 victory and just two weeks after the Targa Florio they took the 1-2-3-4 victory at the 1967 Nürburgring 1000 km race. Piëch, just at the age of 30, was about to become the world king of racing technology.

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1967 May 28, Nürburgring 1000 km Porsche 1-2-3-4 victory: 1. 910/6 #17 Udo Schütz/Joe Buzzetta, 2. 910/6 #19 Paul Hawkins/Gerhard Koch, 3. 910/6 #18 Jochen Neerpasch/Vic Elford, 4. 910/8 #7 Gerhard Mitter/Lucien Bianchi© Porsche

1967 July 11, the new 907 was introduced at Le Mans. As suggested by Ferdinand Piëch, the position of the driver was moved from the traditional left (as in German road cars) to the right as this gave advantages on the predominantly clockwise race tracks. Porsche did very well at Le Mans, taking 5th place with their 2-litre 907 against the 7-litre GT40s and 4-litre Ferraris that took the first four places. 907 was made in three versions: 907 LH (long-tail) 2.0, 907 K (short-tail) 2.0 and the 907 K 2.2 (8-cylinder). The brake discs of the 907 were vented.

1967 July 28, Ferdinand Piëch watching as his creation is checked before the Freiburg-Schauinsland hill climb competition. This is a 910/8 Bergspyder. © Willy Pragher / Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg, reference no. LABW_5-797835-1

1968 Piëch became head of development at Porsche. On February 4, Porsche achieved its first overall victory in 24 hour racing - with 907 LH at Daytona. After Gerhard Mitter had crashed the #53 car because of the oil dropped by a competitor, his teammate Rolf Stommelen supported the #54 driven by Vic Elford/Jochen Neerpasch. When the #52 car of the longtime leaders Jo Siffert/Hans Herrmann dropped to second due to a technical problem, these two also drove car #54 in the case their's breaks down. Due to this, five pilots won the race, and two of them scored also second. Jo Schlesser/Joe Buzzetta with car #51 were there to make Porsche's first 24 hour overall victory a 1-2-3 victory!

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1968 February 3-4, Daytona 24 hours, Porsche 907 LHs took 1-2-3 victory. Winner #54 Vic Elford/Jochen Neerpasch/Rolf Stommelen/Hans Herrmann/Jo Siffert, second #52 Jo Siffert/Hans Herrmann, third #51 Jo Schlesser/Joe Buzzetta. Hermann and Siffert got two cups as they drove two cars to the podium.© Porsche

On March 1, 1968, the prototype of the Porsche 914 road car was presented. Piëch, as the head of development, was the type 914 project leader. The 914 was a collaboration project between VW and Porsche.

On March 23, two 8-cylinder Porsche 907 K take 1-2 victory at the Sebring 12 hour race.

1968 March 23, Sebring 12 hour winning 907 K 2.2 #49 of Jo Siffert/Hans Herrmann. The second place went to 907 K 2.2 #51 of Vic Elford/Jochen Neerpasch. Note: the stickers on the lamps were removed when it got dark - this way the lamp lenses were kept free of dirt until the time they were actually needed.© Sebring Raceway
1968 May 5, Targa Florio was won by Porsche 907 K 2.2 #224 Vic Elford/Umberto Maglioli. It was an amazing race by Porsche drivers - in first lap Vic Elford had lost 18 minutes due to a tyre failure, but he was the fastest driver in the race and together with Umberto Maglioli they managed to win.© Porsche

The 3-litre Porsche 908 was introduced in 1968, being the first Porsche that was engineered to use the maximum allowed engine size.

1968 May 19, Nürburgring 1000 km was won by Porsche 908/01 K Coupé #2 of Jo Siffert/Vic Elford. Second place went to 907K 2.2 #3 of Hans Herrmann/Rolf Stommelen© Udo Kinkel
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1968 November 2, Essen Sports and Racing Car Show (1. Internationale Sport- und Rennwagen-Ausstellung Essen), Porsche 908/01 LH Coupé© Stadt Essen

1969 For the new racing season an absolutely new 12-cylinder Porsche 917 racing car was created under the commandership of Ferdinand Piëch. The 917 was offered to motorsport customers for a price that was approximately 10 times the price of a 911, but less than the actual development costs.

1969 March 12, Geneva Motor Show press day, 917 with its creator Ferdinand Piëch on the right. Closer to the car is racing driver Gerhard Mitter (who died 4 months later at the Schwedenkreuz curve on Nürburgring Nordschleife driving a BMW Formula 2).© Porsche
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1969 April 22, Zuffenhausen, 25x917 waiting to be accepted by the CSI (FIA)© Porsche

The first version of the 917 was a cool-looking longtail coupé, but it had problems at top speed - the long tail created aerodynamical lift, making the car nervous. It was the fastest racing car ever built, so nobody really knew how it would handle at the top speed. Porsche driver Brian Redman is quoted to have said "It was incredibly unstable, using all the road at speed".

1969 April 22, Piëch on the left and the other creator of the 917, Helmut Bott, on the right. CSI (the motorsport branch of FIA) officials Herbert Schmitz and Dean Delamont in the middle.© Porsche
1969 April 22, Piëch presenting the 917 to CSI officials for approval, which he got on May 1.© Porsche
1969 Werk 1, Stuttgart, Ferdinand Piech and Porsche 917 inspection by CSI (FIA)
1969 April 22, 917 presentation for the CSI officials© Porsche

Type 914, the entry-level Porsche, was offered for sale. In Europe it was called as the VW-Porsche 914 and in USA as the Porsche 914. The 4-cylinder VW-engined versions were made at the Karmann plant in Osnabrück and the 6-cylinder models with 911 engine were finished in Stuttgart. The affordable 914 became Porsche's best seller.

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914/4© Porsche
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In April 1969 the “VW-Porsche Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH” (VW-Porsche Marketing Company Ltd) was founded by the two firms and had its head office in Ludwigsburg. Both parties had a 50% share in the marketing company. Sales operations for the types 914/4, 914/6 and 911 were carried out by the marketing company through the head office in Ludwigsburg. Key positions in the marketing company were held on an equal authority basis by Otto-Erich Filius of Porsche and Klaus Schneider of VW. © Porsche
Volkswagen factory in Osnabrück, in front row US-model 914/4s (note the side lamp on front fender)© Karmann
Volkswagen factory in Osnabrück© Karmann

Porsche 1-2-3 wins were becoming natural and so was the case at the 1969 Monza 1000 km race.

1969 April 25, Monza 1000 km winner 908/01 LH Coupé #4 of Jo Siffert/Brian Redman, second place went to 908/01 LH Coupé #7 of Hans Herrmann/Kurt Ahrens Jr. and third place to 907 K 2.2 #10 of Gerhard Koch/Hans-Dieter Dechent. © unknown (please inform us if you know)

For 1969 the rules were changed and Porsche had built a lighter 908/02. It was only available as a Spyder, either a K Spyder, K Flunder Spyder or a LH Flunder Spyder. Aluminium tube frames were used and they were pressurised. The air pressure gauges were installed to understand when the tubeframe got damaged during the race.

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1969 May 4, Targa Florio was completely wiped by 908/02 K Spyders. It was a Porsche 1-2-3-4 finish: 1. #266 Gerhard Mitter/Udo Schütz, 2. #270 Vic Elford/Umberto Maglioli, 3. #274 Stommelen/Hans Herrmann, 4. #272 Willy Kauhsen/Karl von Wendt © Porsche

The 909 Bergspyder was developed for hillclimb events. Competition rules dictated a 2.0-litre engine and Piech wasn't sad to use a lighter 2-litre instead of the heavier 3-litre unit. The 2-litre 8-cylinder flat engine developed 205 kW and the car weighed only ~400 kg/~900 lbs.

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The 909 Bergspyder was the basis for the later 908/03 (and not vice versa)© Porsche
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1969 May 11, Spa 1000 km winning 908/01 LH Coupé #25 of Jo Siffert/Brian Redman followed by the second place Ferrari 312P #8 of Pedro Rodriguez/David Piper who ruined the "Porsche 1-2-3 natural victory". Third place went to 908/01 LH Coupé #10 of Vic Elford/Kurt Ahrens Jr. and fourth place to 908/01 LH Coupé #11 of Hans Herrmann/Rolf Stommelen© Porsche

Following the Porsche 1-2-3 win at the 1967 Targa Florio, 1-2-3-4 at 1967 Nürburgring 1000 km, 1-2-3 at 1968 Daytona 24 hours, 1-2-3 at 1969 Monza 1000 km and a 1-2-3-4 at 1969 Targa Florio, it was time for the 1-2-3-4-5 Porsche victory at the Nürburgring 1000 km on June 1, 1969. The finishing order was:
1. 908/02 K Spyder #1 Jo Siffert/Brian Redman
2. 908/02 K Flunder Spyder #4 Rolf Stommelen/Hans Herrmann
3. 908/02 K Spyder #3 Vic Elford/Kurt Ahrens Jr.
4. 908/02 K Spyder #6 Rudi Lins/Richard Attwood
5. 908/02 K Spyder #5 Willy Kauhsen/Karl von Wendt.

1969 June 1, Nürburgring 1000 km winner 908/02K Spyder (chassis 006), Jo Siffert/Brian Redman. Redman driving (or actually flying) here.© Champion 8/1969

Piëch had engineered the 917 to be able to take overall victory at the 1969 Le Mans 24 hours. In the practise the 917 was the fastest and did lead the race until all the 917s failed. Despite the 917s failing, the 908/01 LH Coupé #64 of Hans Herrmann/Gérard Larrousse took the second place losing only by 120 meters to the winner. Imagine losing 120 meters on a 4.997.880 meter distance!

The first 917 victory came at the Austrian long distance race, Zeltweg 1000 km, on August 10, 1969. It was the shorttail version, the 917K that started to win race after race from now on.

1969 August 10, Zeltweg 1000 km winner 917K-69 #29 of Jo Siffert/Kurt Ahrens Jr.© unknown (please inform us if you know)

Two 8-cylinder prototypes of the 914 were made, one for the project leader Ferdinand Piëch and the other as a surprise for the company leader Ferry Porsche.

Piëch's 914/8 © Porsche
1969 September 19, uncle Ferry Porsche's 60th birthday present was a 914 with 3-litre 8-cylinder engine from the 908 racing car. Piëch can be seen on the photo with paper file in his hand. © Porsche
1969. Ferdinand Piëch, F.A. Porsche, Hans-Michel Piëch© Porsche
1969. Ferdinand Piëch, Hans-Michel Piëch, F.A. Porsche with the picture of their grandfather on the wall© Porsche
1970 Ferbuary 1, Daytona 24H winner 917K-70 #2 of Pedro Rodriguez/Leo Kinnunen. Second place went to 917K-70 #1 of Jo Siffert/Brian Redman, third place to Ferrari 512S #28 of Mario Andretti/Arturo Merzario/Jacky Ickx© unknown (please inform us if you know)
1970 April 12, Brands Hatch 1000 km, Porsche 1-2-3-4 victory: 1. 917K-70 #10 Pedro Rodriguez/Leo Kinnunen, 2. 917K-70 #11 Vic Elford/Denny Hulme, 3. 917K-70 #12 Richard Attwood/Hans Herrmann, 4. 908/02K Spyder #57 Gijs van Lennep/Hans Laine (Laine died in the same 908 on Nürburgring 7 weeks later on May 30)© unknown (please infom us if you know)
1970 April 25, Monza 1000 km winner 917K-70 #7 Pedro Rodriguez/Leo Kinnunen© unknown (please inform us if you know)
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1970 May 3, Targa Florio winning 908/03 '70 Spyder #12 Jo Siffert/Brian Redman. Second place went to 908/03 '70 Spyder #40 Leo Kinnunen/Pedro Rodriguez. And again Porsche 1-2-3 win (or even a 1-2-3-4 win) was spoiled by a Ferrari - third place went to Ferrari 512 S #6 Nino Vaccarella/Ignazio Giunti. Fourth place went to 908/02K Spyder #18 Gijs van Lennep/Hans Laine and fifth place to 908/03 '70 Spyder #36 Björn Waldegaard/Richard Attwood© Porsche
1970 May 17, Spa 1000 km winning 917K-70 #24 of Jo Siffert/Brian Redman. Second place went to Ferrari 512S #20 of Jacky Ickx/John Surtees and third place to 917K-70 #28 of Vic Elford/Kurt Ahrens Jr.© unknown (please inform us if you know)
1970 May 31, Nürburgring 1000 km winner 908/03 '70 Spyder # 22 Vic Elford/Kurt Ahrens Jr. (Elford on the photo). Second place went to 908/03 '70 Spyder #15 Hans Herrmann/Richard Attwood and third place to Ferrari.© unknown (please inform us if you know)
1970 May 31, Nürburgring 1000 km winner 908/03 '70 Spyder # 22 Vic Elford/Kurt Ahrens Jr. (Ahrens on the photo)© unknown (please inform us if you know)

On June 14, 1970, Porsche finally achieved what its workers dreamed about - a Le Mans 24H victory. And not just the victory, Porsche did it the Porsche-Piëch way and achieved a 1-2-3 victory (917 K, 917 LH, 908)! And even that wasn't all - they achieved 6th position and 2-litre class win with the 914/6, too!

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1970 June 14, Le Mans 24H Porsche 1-2-3 victory: 1. 917K'70 #23 Rcihard Attwood/Hans Hermann, 2. 917LH'70 #3 of Gérard Larrousse/Willy Kauhsen, 3. 908/02LH Flunder Spyder #27 of Rudi Lins/Helmut Marko© Porsche
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1970 June 14, Le Mans 24H, Porsche 914/6 #40 Claude Ballot-Léna/Guy Chasseuil win 2-litre class and classify 6th overall! The 914/6 was produced with narrow body as street car and with wide body as competition car. Very few widebody cars were made by Porsche itself, but it supplied the parts to teams for their own creations. When street 914/6 had 81 kW, the competition version had exactly double the power at 162 kW. © Porsche
Piëch with his engineered 917. This is the "official" clone of the 1970 Le Mans winning 917 K - it is the chassis number 917-001 painted to look like the Le Mans winning 917-023 that they had sold in 1971. This photo was taken in the eighties.© Porsche
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1970 August 18-22, Marathon de la Route (86 hours of Nürburgring), 1-2-3 win for Porsche 914/6© Porsche
1970 October 11, Zeltweg 1000 km winner 917K'70 #23 Jo Siffert/Brian Redman© unknown (please inform us if you know)

1971 Piëch became technical general manager at Porsche

1971 January 10, Buenos Aires 1000 km winner 917K'70 #30 Jo Siffert/Derek Bell. Second place went to 917K'70 #32 Pedro Rodriguez/Jackie Oliver© unknown (please inform us if you know)
1971 January 31, Daytona 24H winner 917K'70 #2 Pedro Rodriguez/Jackie Oliver© unknown (please inform us if you know)
1971 March 20, Sebring 12H winner 917K'70 #3 Vic Elford/Gérard Larrousse© unknown (please inform us if you know)
1971 April 25, Monza 1000 km winner 917K'71 #2 Pedro Rodriguez/Jackie Oliver© unknown (please inform us if you know)
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1971 May 9, Spa 1000 km, Porsche double victory: 1st 917 K-70 4.9 #21 Pedro Rodriguez/Jackie Oliver, 2nd 917 K-70 4.9 #20 Jo Siffert/Derek Bell© Porsche
1971 May 30, Nürburgring 1000 km Porsche 1-2-3 victory: 1. 908/03 '71 Spyder #3 Vic Elford/Gérard Larrousse, 2. 908/03 '71 Spyder #1 Pedro Rodriguez/Jo Siffert, 3. 908/03 '71 Spyder #4 Gijs van Lennep/Helmut Marko. The 1971 908/03 Spyder can be spotted by the tail fins that the 1970 908/03 Spyder didn't have. Photo taken on May 29. © Lothar Spurzem
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1971 June 13, Le Mans 24H won by 917K-71 #22 of Helmut Marko/Gijs van Lennep. Second place to 917K-71 #19 Richard Attwood/Herbert Müller/Brian Redman and third place to Ferrari 512M #12 Sam Posey/Tony Adamowicz© Porsche
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This 917 LH-71 made the Le Mans speed record in 1971: 240 mph/386 km/h at the 4 mile/6 km Mulsanne straight. Unfortunately the car retired due to a cooling failure.© Porsche

By 1971, Piëch was director of engineering and a hot prospect for CEO. However, dark clouds were gathering over Piëch’s career at Porsche. The Porsche and Piëch halves of the family (each of which held 50%) became increasingly fractious. Porsche family suggested that in the future no family member (from neither side) should be involved in company’s day-to-day operations.

As Porsche was interested in winning the Can-Am Championship, they needed more power to their cars. Always thinking big, Piëch started the development of the 16-cylinder engine. The experimental turbocharged 12-cylinder was also created. When they understood that it was easier to get the power out from the turbocharged 12-cylinder than from the normally aspirated 16-cylinder, the flat-16 engined 917 PA Spyder remained a one-off prototype. The 917/10 K Turbo became the first turbocharged Porsche.

1972 March 1, a policy was established that no Porsche family member was allowed to be involved in the management of the company. All the family members left the company for a back seat on the supervisory board, only Ferry Porsche leaving active for the time period needed. As Piëch had to leave, he established his own small engineering office.

August 1, 1972, Piëch moved to Audi NSU Auto-Union AG as head of technical development in special tasks department.

With a power output of around 1000 hp, the 917/10 K Turbo won the 1972 CanAm and European Interserie championships.

1972 Can-Am Championship winner 917/10K Turbo of George Follmer. It had a 5-litre flat-12 turbo engine producing around 1000 hp. Photo taken at Road America on August 27, 1972© Porsche

After Piëch had left the Porsche company, the evolution of the 917/10K Turbo, the 917/30 was created. It developed between 1100-1580 hp and repeated the success in 1973. Porsche 917/30 was the most powerful circuit racer ever made and 917-series cars were the most successful racing cars of all time.

To understand Piëch's work at Porsche, let's list the cars he is credited for:
906 Carrera 6, 906 E, 906/8, 910/6, 910/8, 910/8B "Bergspyder", 907 LH, 907 K 2.0, 907 K 2.2, 908/01 K Coupé, 908/01 LH Coupé, 908/01 Spyder, 908/02 K Spyder, 908/02 K Flunder Spyder, 908/02 LH Flunder Spyder, 909 Bergspyder, 908/03 '70 Spyder, 908/03 '71 Spyder, 914/4, 914/6 street version, 914/6 competiton version (unofficially 914/6 GT), 914/8, 917 K-69, 917 K-70, 917 K-71, 917 LH-69, 917 LH-70, 917 LH-71, 917 PA Spyder 12-cylinder, 917 PA Spyder 16-cylinder, 917/10-'71, 917/10-'72, 917/10 K Turbo, 917/20.... So, Piëch's work at Porsche can be described as a new car or modification averagely every second month.

Porsche 917 collection
The photo made at the 1998 Monterey Historics show six 917: #23 917K-70 (official clone of the 1970 Le Mans 24h winner), #6 917/30 (1973 CanAM winner, Mark Donohue won 6 out of 8 races and said “It’s the only car I’ve ever driven that can spin the tires at 200 mph.”), #0 917 PA Spyder, #21 917LH-71 (it made the 240 mph/386 km/h speed record at 1971 Le Mans 24h), #2 917K-70 (1970 Daytona 24h winner), #6 917/10 (1972 CanAm winner)© Porsche
1974© Audi

1975 August, Piëch became Head of Technical Development and Board member at Audi.

1977 Piëch began development of a car for the World Rally Championship

1980 March 3, Audi Quattro Coupé was presented at the Geneva Motor Show.

1980 Geneva Motor Show, Audi Quattro 2.1 turbo© Audi

1981 Piëch became the member of the supervisory board of Porsche.

1982 World Rally Championship was won by Audi

1982 Audi 100 received the "Golden Steering Wheel"-award© Audi

1983 September 1, Piëch became deputy CEO of Audi. Audi scored second in WRC season, 2 points down from Lancia.

1984 Piëch was awarded honorary doctorate ("Dr.h.c.") by Technical University of Vienna. WRC was won again by Audi.

1984 Essen Motor Show. Christian Geistdorfer, Walter Röhrl, Ferdinand Piëch and Günther Claassen (Messe Essen)© Messe Essen

1985 Audi NSU Auto-Union AG was renamed to Audi AG.

1988 January 1, Piëch became CEO of Audi AG. In October started the production of the Audi V8 Quattro.

Interview with Ferdinand Piëch about the Audi V8

1990 DTM-series was won by Audi V8 Quattro in front of BMW M3 Sport Evolution and Mercedes 190E 2.5-16 Evo2.

1990 DTM winning Audi V8 Quattro #44 and its driver Hans-Joachim Stuck (on the left) with Walter Röhrl, who drove the V8 Quattro #45 and scored 11th among 50 drivers of the 1990 DTM-series. © Audi

1991 Audi won DTM again. Two amazing all-aluminium concept cars were unveiled: Audi Quattro Spyder concept in September and even more amazing Audi Avus W12 concept in October.

All-aluminium Audi Quattro Spyder 2.8 VR6 concept was presented at the IAA Frankfurt in 1991© Audi
All-aluminium Audi Avus Quattro 6.0 W12 supercar concept was presented at the Tokyo Motor Show on October 25, 1991© Audi

1993 January 1, Piëch became CEO of Volkswagen AG, the parent company of Audi. At the Porsche Annual General Meeting, shareholder Piëch said: “Porsche will be independent for as long as I live.“ (Now we know, in 2012 he bought Porsche for Volkswagen which had become the most important company for him).

1993 all-aluminium Audi ASF ("Audi Space Frame") prototype of the 1994 Audi A8, was unveiled at the IAA Frankfurt in September 1993 © Audi
Audi A8 aluminium shell© Audi

1994 The production of the all-aluminium Audi A8 started.

1997 The Audi W12 engine concept (with VW origins) was rebadged with "VW" and carried over to Volkswagen concept cars. Big engines were Piëch's desire.

The W12 experimental engine was basically two Volkswagen Corrado/Passat VR6 engines put together. © Volkswagen
Volkswagen W12 Syncro concept car was unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show in October 1997© Volkswagen

1998 Volkswagen acquired the rights to the Bugatti trademark.

Volkswagen W12 Roadster concept unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1998© Volkswagen

On March 27, 1998, Piëch's uncle, Ferry Porsche died at the age of 88.
VW acquired Bentley in May, and Lamborghini through Audi in July.

In September 1998, the Bugatti EB118 concept car was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show. The four seat, two-door coupé featured a 6.3 W18 engine. © Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S.

1999 February 10, mother Louise Piėch died.
Piëch was named the Car Executive of the Century, ETH Zürich awarded him honorary doctorate and City of Zwickau named him honorary citizen.

The Bugatti EB218 study was presented at the 1999 Geneva Motor Show© Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S.
Monstruos engines were the speciality of Ferdinand Piëch. This is the 6.3W18 of Bugatti EB218. © Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S.
Bugatti EB 18/3 Chiron concept was unveiled at 1999 IAA Frankfurt. Chiron's front looked already very much the later production Veyron, but the back was different.© Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S.
The 18/4 Veyron was introduced at the Tokyo Motor Show in October 1999. Despite the 18-cyinder engine and different wheel design, the car looked already like the later production EB 16/4 Veyron.© Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S.
The long but very quick way to Bugatti Veyron: from the first to last prototype the timeframe was only 13 months.© Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S.

2000 Piëch was also named as the chairman of Scania truck company (in 2000 VW became shareholder in Scania).
Already in 1994 the idea was born to build AutoStadt (Car City) in Wolfsburg beside the VW factory. The Car City would be an amusement park for all car fans. Its first pavillion was opened in May 2000.

AutoStadt, the place to show the mightiness of the Volkswagen Group© Volkswagen

2001 10 years after the birth of the Volkswagen-Audi W-engine concept, it finally found its way into series production - as 6.0W12 for Audi A8 and as 4.0W8 for VW Passat. A Volkswagen W12 unpainted carbon fiber version set seven 24-hour world speed records at the Nardò track.
Audi's home city Ingolstadt named Piëch as a honorary citizen.

2001 Frankfurt Motor Show saw the unveiling of the EB 16.4 Veyron supercar. The engine was a 8-litre quad-turbo W16 producing 736 kW and making Piëch very proud. The start of the production was postponed as the safety of the car was examined further in order not to kill the ultra precious customers. Orders were taken, but the customers had to wait for the first deliveries until March 2006. © Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S.
2001 Frankfurt Motor Show also saw the unveiling of the Lamborghini Murciélago, the first Lambo engineered under Audi/Volkswagen regime.© Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A.

December 11, 2001, Ferdinand Piëch and Gerhard Schröder opened the new exclusive Volkswagen factory in Dresden. It is called "Gläserne Manufaktur" which means "Transparent factory". The place was created only for the final assembly of the high-end models (VW Phaeton, Bentley Continental Flying Spur).

The jewel of Volkswagen factories, the Gläserne Manufaktur in Dresden© Volkswagen

2002 VW Phaeton was introduced in March and the new Bentley based on it, the Continental GT, in September. Continental GT used Phaeton's platform and engine, which was turbocharged for Bentley. For many, the new Bentley was the best Bentley ever, meaning Piëch was able to make British luxury cars even better.

Volkswagen Phaeton 6.0W12 was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2002© Volkswagen

Piëch had to retired from the Board of Management due to the company policy (reached the age of 65), but remained as Chairman of the Supervisory Board.
Volkswagen's home city Wolfsburg named Piëch honorary citizen and he also received the 2002 Wilhelm Exner Medal for excellence in research and science (Piëch's grandfather Ferdinand Porsche had received the Exner medal in 1936 and his uncle Ferry Porsche in 1979).

Bentley Continental GT 6.0W12 was unveiled at the 2002 Paris Motor Show© Bentley Motors

2006 October 21, sister Louise Daxer-Piëch died.

2011 Porsche became part of the Volkswagen Group. Piëch won the "Man of the Year" award of the Automobile Magazine.

2015 Piëch resigned from the position of the head of the supervisory board of Volkswagen AG and from the supervisory board of Porsche.

2019 August 2, a special Bugatti Chiron did 304 mph / 490 km/h. The world would not have seen such a car without Ferdinand Piëch. The 21st century Bugatti was Piëch's brainchild.

Bugatti Chiron 304 mph / 490 km/h

2019 August 25, Ferdinand Piëch died at the age of 82.


Personal life
Piëch lived for twelve years with Marlene Porsche (cousin Gerd Porsche's ex). Piëch's fourth and last wife was Ursula "Uschi" Piëch. Ferdinand Karl Piëch had more than 10 children with 4 wives. One of his sons is also named Ferdinand Piėch.


Although Ferdinand Porsche's name was carried on with his son and grandsons, Ferdinand Piëch, the son of F. Porsche's daughter, was the one to carry on the Porsche engineering genius. In addition, F. K. Piëch was a business genius.


Article © James Herne / Stuttcars.com


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