FERDINAND PIËCH (1937–2019)
His life was also the story of the car industry itself. As the grandson of Ferdinand Porsche, he was automotive royalty. Still only 31, he commanded the development of the Porsche 917 in a manner that set the template for what would follow: an extraordinary vision, executed with ruthless commitment, with astonishing results. At Audi, he oversaw the quattro. Then to VW, in 1993, when the company was in a parlous state; you can thank Piëch for the platform-sharing strategy that transformed its fortunes. His personal passion project, the Bugatti Veyron, gave the automotive world its Concorde moment. His near despotic management style sowed the seeds for VW’s darkest hour – the Dieselgate scandal was surely the product of a culture wherein failure was not an option – but his legacy remains intact.