The man who saved the Porsche 911 has passed away

By topgear ,

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The former boss of Porsche, Peter Schutz, has sadly passed away at the age of 87.

He became the President and CEO of the company in January 1981. He started his tenure when Porsche was “experiencing a difficult period”, having recorded its first ever losses in the previous year.

At that time, Porsche had decided to end production of the 911. Within Schutz’s third week as boss, he reversed that decision, thus preserving the 911 line and what would ultimately become – as Porsche knows – “the heart of the brand”. You can sell all the Cayennes and Macans in the world, but no 911 = no Porsche.

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Further, he helped to widen the 911’s appeal by introducing the 911 Cabriolet, and then turned his hand to the 944 Turbo, the 944 S, and the 944 S2.

A year after saving the 911, in 1982 he oversaw Porsche’s efforts at Le Mans, where the company managed to grab first, second, third, fourth and fifth, alongside winning in “almost all categories”.

In 1985 – just four years into his tenure as boss – the company unveiled the Porsche 959 at that year’s Frankfurt motor show. If you need a reminder, the 959 was a technological showpiece to rival the Ferrari F40 with a twin-turbocharged 444bhp allowing a 317kph top speed, while its four-wheel drive yielded 0-100kph in 3.9secs. In the mid-’80s…

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All in, Schutz helped turn Porsche’s fortunes around entirely, trebling the company’s sales and turning a profit again. “For five financial years in a row,” Porsche tells us, “the company set one record after another.”

He remained in charge until 1987, when – following the economic crisis of the late Eighties – the company reported a drop in sales and export revenues. Schutz left Porsche, moved to Florida and became a motivational speaker.

What a legacy he leaves behind.

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