Ferdinand Piech looking satisfied in our camera lens at the "Konzern Night" ahead of the opening of the Frankfurt Show 2009.
Ferdinand Piëch is no more a chairman of the VW group, and all the newspapers in the world are full of it. I just take the occasion here to express my deepest admiration for this genius of automotive technology.
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Young Ferdinand Piëch (ricght) receiving the "Goldenes Lenkrad" Prize for the 183 hp Audi 200 Turbo from Axel Springer in November 1983..
I met him for the first time at the presentation of the Audi 80 sedan Quattro in St. Moritz. Here the young Piëch was present in his function as chief engineer of development at Audi. I vividly recall having breakfast with him, together with other colleagues. Eating a boilt egg, he pointed out to us that it was likely to be a bit softer than we were used to, just because....the water boils at a slightly lower temperature as a result of the altitude of our hotel...
I met young Ferdinand Piëch for the first time at the presentation of the Audi 80 sedan Quattro, here I am driving away from the Badrutts Palace hotel...
Such a man was Piëch, and having driven the Quattro Audi 80 with its rather sedate, but beautifully sounding and free revving 115 hp 5 cylinder petrol engine, I was quite impressed. His outspoken passion for automobiles leaves its mark on all the VW group products built over the last decades, and driving the car of the year 2015, the VW Passat at the moment of writing, one still feels it.
Piëch standing proudly (far right) with the Audi Vorstand in 1983, from left to right: Günther Kurrle, Dr; Wolfgang R. Habbel, Herman Stübig, Dr. Ernst Beuler, Dr. Martin Posth, in front of the Audi 100, being Car of the Year in 1983.
The uncanny frugality of the engine, the excellent and vibration free pulling power at very low revs, the high gearing, the draft free air-conditioning and ventilation system, all this is a legacy of Piëch. He hated drafts in the interior and too cold air around his neck, and that is the reason why his cars have wide ventilation openings, which are running the whole length of the front window, guaranteeing a draft free airflow.
We photographed Dr. Ferdinand K. Piëch, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Volkswagen AG and his wife Ursula looking confidently into the automotive future at the Volkswagen Group Night...in 2009.
Piëch gave the VW group cars their technical identity, personality, feel and sound. We can only hope that he does not leave us completely. There is little chance that he will. He is still a major stakeholder, and, I believe, he still loves the VW group and all it stands for.
To continue the "personal" history, I later met hem when he drove his famous 1 litre car with Pitschetsrieder in the back to the general meeting, on his last day as CEO of VW. I was one of the few people there with a Nikon in my hand. I have the photo’s still in my archives, and I am digging them up, so there is more to come…
In the meantime, we might know more on the 5th of May, but I hope, and I believe, that we will still feel the hand of this genius at the helm, steering with his VW colleagues the future course of the VW group…
Hans Knol ten Bensel