Peter W. Schutz, the President and CEO of Porsche AG from 1981 to 1987 and the man responsible for saving the 911 nameplate from extinction, passed away recently on October 29, 2017.
When Porsche launched the 928 in 1978, its plan was for the car to replace the 911, which the German carmaker planned to cease production in 1981. Soon after Schutz took over Porsche in January 1981, he met with Dr. Helmuth Bott, the Porsche operating board member responsible for engineering and development, and it was during this meeting when he noted that Porsche’s development schedule for the Porsche 928 and Porsche 944 stretched for years while that of the Porsche 911 stopped at the end of 1981.
“I remember rising from my chair, walking over to the chart, taking a black marker pen, and extending the 911 program bar clean off the chart. I am sure I heard a silent cheer from Professor Bott, and I knew I had done the right thing. The Porsche 911, the company icon, had been saved, and I believe the company was saved with it,” Schutz said in Porsche 911 3.2 Carrera: The Last of the Evolution, a book written by Tony Corlett–and which Schutz wrote the foreword of–that details the development of the car mentioned in the title.
Schutz’s reversal of Porsche’s earlier decision to cease the production of the 911 proved fortunate for the carmaker as the model’s continuing success has made it into an iconic vehicle.
Other than saving the 911, Schutz was also instrumental in bringing the Porsche 911 Cabriolet to the world and in expanding the 944 range with the introduction of the 944 Turbo, 944 S, and 944 S2 as well as their equivalent convertible variants. Under Schutz’s watch, Porsche also succeeded in motorsports, winning almost all categories and special rankings at Le Mans and achieving positions one to five in the 1982 race. And then there’s the Porsche 959 which was unveiled in 1985 and has been dubbed as the ‘Über-911’ by being the most technically-advanced road-going sports car at the time of its production.
For five financial years in a row under Schutz’s guidance, Porsche set one record after another. However, the economic crisis in the second half of the decade and the declining export revenues and corresponding drop in sales in the USA, Porsche’s strongest market, signaled the end of Schutz’s tenure as President and CEO of Porsche AG. Schutz left the company in 1987 and retired to Naples, Florida in 1988 and became a motivational speaker. Peter W. Schutz is survived by his wife, daughter and two sons.