Butzi Porsche helped design the Cayenne

Missing my Cayenne at the minute. Long story involving many support vehicles sent ice driving in Sweden, but it is down in Monte Carlo with Tuthill Porsche, towing the Porsche 997 R-GT car into places for testing that the big Tuthill rally truck won’t reach easily.

Porsche Cayenne race rally car towing

The 955 Porsche Cayenne V8 is a big old girl and it sucks up plenty of fuel, but you do get attached to its sublime waftability. “I had a trouble-free eighteen months with a Cayenne Turbo,” agreed Porsche professional Cris in a daily driver thread on ImpactBumpers.com. “They are nonsense quick for a fat bird, quicker than the contemporary supercharged Range Rover and better on fuel. Although better than very bad is still awful.

“Downside of selling it is now all other cars seem rubbish, including the other half’s newish Golf 1.4 TSi. I’m ruined and am now saving for a Cayenne again: a GTS this time or maybe a diesel V6.”

After a holiday romance in the Canaries last Christmas with a cute little Citröen Berlingo rental, I crunched the numbers and buying a new Berlingo diesel was cheaper than running the Cayenne over the next three years. I looked at maybe changing for a Citröen, but I worried I might miss the Cayenne too much. Then I corrected an omission in my original workings and the man-maths more or less balanced out, as the Big Pig continues to manage the equivalent of 35 mpg while driven hard and running on propane gas. So I forgot my holiday romance.

Cayenne pining reached a peak as I flicked through some unopened mail this evening and found last month’s copy of Panorama. The magazine of the Porsche Club of America ran some great features through 2014, and this latest edition carried another cracker titled Real Genius: an excerpt from Randy Leffingwell’s Illustrated Porsche Buyers Guide, covering the genesis of the original Cayenne.

Porsche design Cayenne Steve Murkett

Butzi Porsche helped design the Cayenne

The story confirms our blog from a few months back on how the Porsche Cayenne was originally planned as a Mercedes joint venture, but Randy also learned from Cayenne designer, Steve Murkett, how Ferdinand Alexander ‘Butzi’ Porsche helped shape the 955 Cayenne.

“Butzi had always been an SUV enthusiast,” said Steve. “He said if we were going to design an SUV, he wanted to be directly involved.”

Porsche design Cayenne clay model

Steve tells how Butzi started coming very month, looking at the models. Eventually, F.A. came straight out and said he would design Porsche’s new vehicle. This did not go down so well with the design department, who had been working for years on the E1 SUV project. A Land Rover Defender would act as peacemaker: a Land Rover that Burkett ended up buying from the extensive fleet of SUVs and 4x4s purchased by Weissach for competitor evaluation.

“The Land Rover has absolutely nothing to do with what a Cayenne is, but for me it is an icon,” says Burkett. “It has character. I developed a pretty good relationship with Butzi, probably because he had a Defender as well. Anytime we got into a stalemate where we couldn’t agree about anything, we started talking about tyres on our Defenders.”

Butzi did work on a Cayenne design and the two concepts eventually went to the management for a final decision. Burkett’s design won, but he is honest about F.A.’s hand in the styling. “There is no doubt about Butzi’s contribution to the simplicity of the Cayenne. It doesn’t have all the little muscles and edges seen on BMW X5 or Mercedes ML, but that was Butzi’s thing: keep it simple.”

The complete feature could transform your opinion of the Cayenne: there is so much Porsche engineering in these cars. It makes me want mine back even more! For less than £10 new and delivered on Amazon UK, the Illustrated Porsche Buyers Guide is worth a read: it’s not the dry buyers’ guide you might expect.

8 Comments

  • Mark Baker says:

    cayenne is an ugly pig. I would not admit to designing that.

  • John Glynn says:

    Good looking beast you mean, Tea Boy

  • Mark Baker says:

    In the eye of the beholder. X

  • John Glynn says:

    Just like you lovely xx

  • Tritone says:

    “It doesn’t have all the little muscles and edges seen on BMW X5 or Mercedes ML, but that was Butzi’s thing: keep it simple.”

    And thank god for that! The other 2 have way too much tinsel stuck on……

    Notice how that historic Porsche DNA keeps coming thru?

  • Working together with Butzi Porsche was a great privilege and It was very special to be creating a completely new vehicle line for Porsche. At the time, the criticism of Porsche verging out from it´s sportscar heritage cost alot of sleepless nights. Having such tangible support from the Porsche family was wonderful. That my Land Rover played a role in this is amusing and is absolutely true.
    But no, I didn´t have to change my surname as a result of Butzi´s involvement!
    Stephen Murkett

    • John Glynn says:

      That is great, Stephen! Love my Cayenne: a proper piece of kit.

    • Zachary A. says:

      Steve, your original design of the 955 is still better than the 958 revision. Many people in 2004 who said the Cayenne was a hideous SUV…..ended-up buying SUVs borrowing Cayenne’s low hoodline(Hyundai, Subaru), aerodynamic HID lamps(Cadillac, GMC), lower door thresholds(Jeep) and most of all…..your trademark front-side grill scoops(BMW X5, MBZ ML-550). Almost every “sporty SUV” I see today has in some way emulated parts of your 1998 original design. You are a true Porsche designer in every respect!

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