It seems fitting that Ferdinand Piech and legendary designer Giorgetto Giugiaro would retire in the same year. The two men are already linked in automotive history.
Last month, Giugiaro, 76, resigned from Italdesign Giugiaro SpA, the styling and engineering company he founded in 1968. The move comes five years after he sold a 90 percent stake to Audi, retaining 10 percent for himself and his son, Fabrizio, 50. That stake was sold to Audi on June 28.
Piech, 78, stepped down as Volkswagen's supervisory board chairman in April -- the second time in his career a disagreement with his own family sent him packing. Long ago, Piech dueled with his Porsche cousins at the family sports car company, and in 1971, his frustrated uncle, Ferry Porsche, kicked all family members out of the business.
People today wonder what Piech might do next. Well, after he was booted out in 1971 he went to work for Giorgetto Giugiaro.
Gerhard Gumpert, VW's powerful Italian distributor, had organized a stint for Piech at Italdesign, then a fledgling independent studio headed by the young Giugiaro, who would one day be voted the greatest car designer of the 20th century.
When Piech got to Italdesign in Turin, Giugiaro had just finished designing the first-generation Golf and the Scirocco coupe.
Piech spent his time in Turin making technical drawings of various mechanical layouts. And he revealed a degree of respect for Giugiaro that seemed out of character for the future autocrat. Giugiaro once recalled that whenever he entered the Italdesign office, Piech sprang to attention like a soldier in front of his general.
Giugiaro felt Piech's response wasn't really called for. Yet each time the designer said something to Piech, he wrote it down on paper several times, "until I've fully learned it," Piech would say.