Interview: Ulrich Bez

The father of the 993 talks about what makes a great sports car, German engineering and the future of sports cars

July 24, 2014
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Interview: Ulrich Bez 2
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As head of Porsche’s fabled Research and Development department, Dr. Ulrich Bez was responsible for leading development of the 993—Porsche’s last and much loved air-cooled 911.

Bez’s first love was airplanes. He studied Aviation Technology at Universität Stuttgart and he later earned a Doctorate in Engineering from Freie Universität Berlin before going to work for Porsche in 1972. Bez climbed his way up to the position of Director of Vehicle Research before leaving Porsche for BMW in 1982.

In Munich, Bez started out as the Director of Vehicle Pre-Development before becoming the first director of BMW’s experimental development lab, BMW Technik. After six years and some notable projects, including the Z1 roadster, Bez headed back to Weissach in 1988, when he was appointed Director of R&D and Motorsport at Porsche, replacing the retiring Helmuth Bott.

The recession that started with the Black Monday crash of 1987 had softened the sports car market considerably, and Bez was given a strict budget for updating the model range. The positive outcomes of this ingenuity-over-big-budget strategy were the 993, 968 and 928 GTS.

Bez also wanted to expand the product range to include a sedan, which would have been known as the 989. When it became apparent to the Board of Directors that the cost of that project had gotten out of control and the car would be far too expensive to produce, Bez was asked to leave Porsche in 1991. He ended up in an unlikely place: South Korea.

Eager to enter the expanding global auto market, South Korean automakers had set out to attract talent from around the world. In 1993, Bez became the Vice President of Strategy, Engineering, and Product Development at Daewoo. After five years in Seoul, Bez returned to Germany in 1998, where he served as the Chairman of Flender AG, an industrial gearbox maker. In 2000, Bez accepted the position of CEO at Aston Martin, a role he will soon be relinquishing for retirement once a suitable replacement is selected.

Excellence: What makes a great sports car? What is the core of a great sports car for you?

Also from Issue 222

  • TechArt 991 Turbo S
  • A 1957 356 A Coupe with gunslinger DNA
  • Porsche Parade 2014
  • A 964 Speedster gets turbo power
  • Rite of Passage Turbo-look 911
  • Porsche’s surprising role in Formula Vee
  • A 993 RSR gets a second lease on life
  • A 1977 911 becomes a Driver Education gem
  • Studiotorino Cayman
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