Peter Schutz, the man credited with saving the Porsche 911 from its impending demise in the 1980s has died aged 87.
After losses and declining sales, Porsche planned to scrap the rear-engined 911 in favour of the more modern front-engined 944 and 928 models.
After taking the helm of Porsche in 1980 and contrary to the received wisdom at the time, Schutz responded to low morale within the company by insisting that production of the 911 should continue. He then expanded the line, introducing droptop and turbo variants, as well as overseeing the development of Porsche's four-wheel-drive system and the iconic 959. His tenure also coincided with a return to dominance on the race track.
'Everywhere I went, I listened to people who asked, "Why discontinue the 911? It's a great car,"' Schutz told Autoweek when asked about the event in the past. 'And "Why aren't you in racing?"'
Under Schutz, Porsche Cars North America was also founded – a controversial move that saw the company's US franchise dealers replaced by a new network of Porsche dealers under the subsidiary Porsche Centers Inc.
Porsche's profits grew massively, from £2.46m in the 1981 fiscal year to £39m in 1985 – with inflation taken into consideration that's a rise in modern terms from £6.6m to £104.5m. But the now-affluent brand couldn't maintain that level through the financial crash of 1987. Once again sales and profits declined and Schutz was eventually ousted from his position as CEO in 1988.
Despite his relatively short reign at the top of Porsche, Schutz left a lasting impression – Porsche produced its millionth 911 earlier this year, and if you head down to your local Porsche dealer today, you'll have a choice of no fewer than 23 different 911 models, not to mention the smattering of other limited edition models that have also been offered in recent years. Porsche has also taken seven World Sports Car and World Endurance Championship crowns (with an eighth likely to be added) and 14 Le Mans 24 Hours wins since then.
Today, Porsche is one of the most successful car brands of all, but it does make you wonder – would it have even existed without Schutz and what would the Schulzless Porsche of 2017 even look like?