Anatole “Tony” Lapine, the former design chief behind iconic Porsche vehicles like the 924, 944, and most notably, the 928, passed away at his home in Germany last week less than a month before his 82nd birthday. Lapine, seen above second to the left, over looks a new design with his crew at the Porsche studios in 1973.
In addition to his contributions with the 924, 944, and the 928, Lapine helped put Porsche on the map with his designs for over two decades. Anatole Lapine, known to many simply as “Tony,” also worked for General Motors helping on projects like the 1960 CERV I, the 1962 Corvair Monza GT, the 1963 Corvair Monza SS, and the 1963-’64 CERV II. Lapine teamed up with Larry Shinoda to design one of the most recognizable cars of all time, the 1963 Chevrolet Corvette String Ray. During his time at GM, Lapine cut his teeth under the direction of GM’s design chief Bill Mitchell in his super secret design den known as “Studio X.” Lapine thrived in Studio X which launched his iconic status in the United States as an automotive designer.
Lapine also had a brief stint as a driver, as he shared wheel-time with Dr. Dick Thompson, an American racecar driver who won multiple championships with Sports Car Club of America. With a 1959 XP-87 Sting Ray as his steed, Lapine ran in the SCCA sanctioned Wisconsin Grand Prix in Elkhart Lake a grueling 500 mile race.
Daimler-Benz gave Lapine his first taste of the automotive world as he served as an apprentice after business came back online after World War II. General Motors later enticed Lapine to come stateside in 1952 to work in the advanced body engineering department. GM decided to ship Lapine back to Germany 13 years later to oversee Opel’s research center. Unfortunately for GM, Lapine was stolen away by Porsche only four years later in 1969.