FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The Porsche 911, with its sloping roof line, long hood and powerful rear engine, has been a sports car-lover's fantasy for the half century since its 1963 introduction. Its creator, Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, grandson of the automaker's founder, is dead at age 76.
Porsche died Thursday in Salzburg, Austria, Porsche AG said Thursday. No cause was provided.
Known as F.A. to his colleagues, Porsche headed the company's design studio in the early 1960s when it needed a replacement for its first car, the Porsche 356. He came up with something sleek, ruthlessly stripped of decoration, and packing a six-cylinder engine where the 356 had a four-cylinder. It's a combination that the company has evolved instead of replacing and which turns on car enthusiasts even today.
The 911, now in its seventh version, remains recognizably the same vehicle, though with much updated mechanical parts and technology. The new version was mobbed and groped when it was unveiled in September at the Frankfurt auto show. Showgoers left the doors and roof smeared with fingerprints as they scrambled for a chance to sit behind the wheel.
The new car was originally designated the 901, but the number was changed because French competitor Peugeot claimed a patent on car names formed with a zero in the middle.
Manny Alban, president of the 106,000-member Porsche Club of America and owner of two 1990 911s, compares the design to the Coca-Cola bottle — an outline that's instantly familiar even to people who are not auto enthusiasts.
"It's a car that has evolved since 1963 quite gracefully," he said, adding that although the latest version has "Porsche Carrera S" on the rear end, "a lot of people would say you don't need that because a Porsche enthusiast would say you can look at it and know it's a 911."
"It's very German. Everything has a purpose, every button, it all makes sense, there are no gizmos. You won't look back 20 years later and say why did they put that on there."
Porsche CEO Matthias Mueller paid tribute to the 911 creator, saying in a statement that he "founded a culture of design in our company that distinguishes our sports cars even today."