The inspired engineer behind so much of Porsche’s success, Helmuth Bott has long remained the company’s eminence grise, but little has been written about him. Now, Porsche Road & Race, looks at both the professional and private life of one of Porsche’s most devoted servants, revered by his subordinates, but whose contribution went increasingly unrecognised by the supervisory board, and who ultimately made a scapegoat of him.
The younger of two brothers, Helmuth Bott was born in Kirchheim unter Teck, 15 miles south east of Stuttgart, in 1925 and schooled in Esslingen in the outskirts of the Swabian capital. His father was an electrician for the local power company and used to joke that he could turn off all the lights in Turkheim. From him, the young Helmuth acquired his interest in things technical, fettling motorcycles like many teenagers, but the 1930s were harsh. Bott senior lost his job in the depression and in 1939 was drafted into the military despite being 44 and in poor health. It was during this time that the young Helmuth learned to become self-reliant. Before he could manage to complete his schooling though, in 1943 he too was pressed into the Wehrmacht as tank crew, seeing service in Yugoslavia. Hostilities over, he returned to Turkheim and completed his studies. He wanted to become a teacher, but his ambition to work in a Gymnasium was thwarted by the rigid education authority which deemed him, because of his interrupted studies, capable only of teaching in Grundschule. Frustrated, Bott spent his savings on furthering his technical qualifications and then joined Bosch as an apprentice. Six months later he moved on to Daimler Benz where he stayed a year and a half.