On 16 April Dr Ferdinand Piech celebrated his 65th birthday and his official retirement from head of the Volkswagen Group. We take a look back at some of the highlights of his career.
– Contrary to popular belief Dr Piech was not born into the Porsche family. He won his family history in a Lower Saxony cow punching contest organised by the sports car maker to distract critics from their embarrassing involvement with the Nazi party.
– Piech cites the Porsche 917 race car as one of his finest achievements, except for one detail: ‘The glovebox action was inadequately damped’ quipped the former engineer.
– Since 1964 Dr Piech has claimed that he can ‘smell’ colours
– Piech had a unique way of dealing with troublesome managers. ‘I simply arranged to have them killed,’ quipped the slapheaded autocrat.
– In 1977 Piech became European Face Wrestling champion after beating Alan Hansen in the final.
– Unlike soup loving fellow engineering loon Dr Wolfgang Reitzle, Piech is not a big fan of ox tail soup: ‘I don’t like the bits in it’ quipped the former Audi boss.
– In his last years at VAG Dr Piech had every single internal door in the Volkswagen head office redesigned at a cost of over 40 million Deutchmarks to ensure class leading shutlines. The completely pointless move was prompted by a rumour that BMW’s Munich HQ boasted class leading 3mm internal door tolerances.
– Dr Piech’s legs are made of aluminium. ‘It makes me 17% more efficient climbing stairs,’ quipped the now-retired mentalist.
– On his last day at VAG Dr Piech was presented with a specially constructed vehicle, built by VW engineers using a Golf chassis and the latest 150bhp diesel engine. The vehicle was built to Piech’s own plans and is codenamed the ‘Death Machine TDI PD 150 SE’. Before leaving Wolfsburg for the last time Piech screamed ‘I WILL RETURN! MWAAA-HA-HA-HAAAAAA!’.
This story was originally published in April 2002