VIENNA — Ferdinand Porsche Jr., who helped his father develop the Volkswagen Beetle before World War II and later founded the sports car firm that bears his name, died Friday at age 88.
Porsche died surrounded by his family at their vacation home in the resort town of Zell am See, the company's Salzburg office said.
Born in Vienna in 1909, Porsche was involved with cars from childhood, driving his own small auto at age 10.
"I came into the world at the same time as the auto, if you will," he once said.
The family moved to Stuttgart, Germany, where his father, Ferdinand, became a board member and technical director at Daimler Motoren AG.
The elder Porsche founded his own automobile workshop in 1931 and his son, known as "Ferry," was his right-hand man, helping with the development of the Volkswagen, or "people's car." The first prototype left the family's garage in 1936.
The cornerstone for the first VW plant was laid two years later, supervised by a beaming Adolf Hitler. But during the war, automobile production was suspended in favor of tanks and other armaments.
The younger Porsche's heart remained with race cars, however. In Gmund, Austria, one year after the war ended, he began to put together by hand the first car to bear the Porsche name.
The Porsche 356, initially based on Volkswagen parts, was an immediate hit, and another plant for series production was built in Stuttgart, where the firm is based today.
A family connection still exists between the two car makers: Porsche's nephew, Ferdinand Piech, is chairman at VW.
Porsche is the epitome of sports cars and a prestige symbol of German engineering. Between 1948 and 1963, almost 80,000 of the model 356 were sold.
The 356 was replaced in 1963 by the still successful Porsche 911 and other models.
Porsche became chairman of the company's supervisory board in 1972, when the firm became a publicly traded company.
Although his name was synonymous with fast cars, the Porsches lived modestly.
He married Dorothea Reitz in 1935 and they remained together until her death in 1985. He is survived by their four sons.
A memorial service will be held in Stuttgart after Porsche's funeral and burial in Zell am See, the company said. Dates have not been set.