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  • A gifted sports-car creator

    Porsche helped return hope to postwar Germany.

    Automotive News Europe

    After World War II, Ferry Porsche helped to return not only hope and confidence to a devastated Germany, but also a sizeable dose of glamour.

    Son of Volkswagen founder Ferdinand Porsche, Ferry started working in his father's engineering bureau in Gmünd, Austria, in 1947. His first objective was to build the sports car he had dreamed up during WWII.

    The result was the 356, which debuted in 1948, the year now celebrated as the birth of postwar Porsche. The carmaker sold 78,000 units of the 356 by the time production ended in 1965.

    Because of its air-cooled rear engine layout, which was borrowed from VW, the car was a challenge to handle. But its combination of high power and light weight made it, for many, the quintessential sports car of its time.

    During the late 1950s and early 1960s, few would have predicted that the company could top the 356 -- but it did. The legendary 911 was launched in 1964 and it continues to enjoy the longest production run of any sports car in the world.

    Ferry's son, Ferdinand Alexander, penned the car's timeless styling. Enhanced during the past four decades -- the 1974 911 Turbo was the world's first turbocharged sports car -- but never drastically changed, the sixth-generation 911 debuted last year. The car has been a hit with customers and critics, which means Porsche will be adding to the 610,000 911s it has sold in the past 40 years.

    During Ferry's reign, Porsche's commercial success was only helped by its numerous racing triumphs in events such as Le Mans and Formula One.

    Ferry stepped down from the company board in 1972 but remained active on the company's advisory board, serving as chairman until 1990. He was the advisory board's honorary chairman until his death on March 27, 1998, in Zell am See, Austria.