Former Porsche CEO Peter Schutz 1930-2017

Naples, FL — Porsche’s first American CEO and the man credited with saving the 911, died last weekend at the age of 87.


Every post-1981 911 owes its existence to Peter Schutz. Photo: Stuttcars

Born in Berlin, Germany in 1930, Schutz’s parents moved to Chicago when he was 11. After attending the Illinois Institute of Technology, Schutz served in various engineering positions at Caterpillar Tractor in Peoria, Ill., for 15 years, while also teaching engineering at Bradley University in Peoria.

He then spent 11 years at Cummins Engine Company, Inc. — three years in corporate strategic planning and eight years as vice president responsible for sales and services of truck engines in the United States and Canada.

Schutz moved to Cologne, Germany in 1978 to oversee the Deutz Engine Division of Kloeckner-Humboldt-Deutz, AG, including engineering, manufacturing and worldwide sales and service.

After being invited to apply by none other than Ferry Porsche, Schutz served as CEO of Porsche AG from 1981-1987. He began just as Porsche was concluding its first money-losing year (1980), and during his tenure Porsche worldwide sales grew from 28,000 units in 1980-81 to a peak of 53,000 units in 1986.

Among his first actions was to reverse Porsche’s decision to discontinue the 911 in 1981, a bold move which he wrote about in 2013 for Road & Track.

Since 1991, he had traveled the globe as a speaker and business consultant with Harris & Schutz, the company he founded with his wife, Sheila Harris.

He also authored “The Driving Force, Getting Extra Ordinary Results with Ordinary People,” a book about his life journey and lessons learned during his professional career.