On the Passing of Ferdinand “Butzi” Porsche
The grandson of the founder of Porsche, Ferdinand “Butzi” Porsche passed away this week at the relatively young age of 76. Among his contributions to Porsche was the gorgeous 911 coupe.
Porsche had the old ‘bathtub’ 356 model (Porsche’s numbering scheme followed their internal development numbering for cars at the time) that was getting long in the tooth. While the basic configuration would remain unchanged in the follow on model, the appearance of the car
needed a thorough redesign. And the young Butzi Porsche would pen the new design.
The model that Butzi Porsche drew was a tightening of the old 356, sharper creases, and surfaces pulled tauter together. But the signature iconic design element of the model (and the subsequent 911 coupes) were the side lights – the quarter window and door window openings appeared in the mind’s eye as a drawn bow. It has a kinetic feel that many a designer would love to have penned and as good as any single design feature in automotive history. It was pure gold. Money, as they say.
The working model designation of what was to become the 911 was the 901. And the car would have been known as the 901 if Peugeot hadn’t intervened and objected to the use of two numbers sandwiching an 0 (Peugeot had a number of models on the market at the time with three digit designations and the middle digit a zero – they still do). And that’s how the 911 came to be a 911 – and the basic form and feel has proven remarkably resilient.
But truth be told, Butzi Porsche was prouder of another Porsche he penned, one that the was antecedent to a number of highly significant and tremendously successful endurance racers, the 904. Here was a mid-engined, closed body follow on to the 550 that would give rise to
the 906, 908 and the all-conquering 917s (the incredible 917-30, which, in your humble scrivener’s opinion, killed the best racing format seen in North America, the Can-Am series, through it’s sheer dominance).
What his grandfather had started, Ferdinand “Butzi” Porsche enhanced. I will lift a glass in his honor.
The i8 Spyder
I realize that people are amped by the recent pic dump of the i8 Spyder, but seeing the front ¾ view made me hesitate. The i8 Spyder is a shortened wheelbase form of the i8 coupe we’re familiar with. Yet that view of the car made me wince a bit. The hsot from low off the left front quarter panel just didn’t look right.
However, and more importantly, as one of our astute commenters, Speedster, pointed out, these appear to be what the production door skins will look like. But the effect of that ¾ view, on my eye, is that the shoulder is too high in proportion to the wheelbase. Possibly it has to do with the lighting affecting how the lower portion of the door is seen.
The other oddity in my mind of that view is the impact of mentally extending the line of the A pillar up and back, and the C pillar up and forward. Pointed hat. Not a good mental image.
Fortunately after watching the videos my fears were dispelled,. And was the driver during the night shots none other than the head of M, Dr. Nitschke? That’s a rough job to have.
The Continuing Proliferation of Hofmeister Kinks
There were a couple of new cars reveals this week that brought a smile to my face. The first was the 2014 Chevrolet Impala. Think of the Impala occupying the same sales slot as Ford’s Taurus, Toyota’s Avalon, and Hyundai’s Azera (no new news on Hyundai’s purported takeover of BMW, by the way – just kidding).
But there defining the root of the C pillar on the Chebby is none other than a Hofmeister Kink! No, there is no way that dog-leg can be copyrighted through postdating (and dogs may take exception to Hofmeister having stolen their form – good thing they don’t have opposable thumbs, or they’d be signing legal paperwork).
And this morning, 6 April, I catch a glimpse of the new Toyota Avalon and – BINGO! – it has a Hofmeister kink too. Fortunately both Ford and Hyundai have restrained themselves from following along.