Porsche 911 design icon: Tony Hatter
“I was born in Northern England, but whereas most of my friends were football fans, I was crazy about cars. My parents thought I should get into some sort of engineering apprenticeship, but that proved a bit of a dead end and I went to Lanchester Polytechnic [now Coventry University] where I did a degree which involved transport design.
“But vehicle design itself wasn’t properly understood at that time, and it wasn’t till I got to the Royal College of Art in London, where I spent two years, that I really discovered design and styling.”
Full of youthful enthusiasm, Tony Hatter was keen to join Porsche, but in 1981 the company wasn’t hiring so he found a styling position at Opel, moving to Porsche in 1986, a path trodden by a series of well-known Porsche designers beginning with the then-styling chief, Tony Lapine.
“As a newcomer I started off on small jobs, such as the wider rear bumper for the 964 Turbo, and I remember I did the ribbon latch pulls for the doors of the 964 RS. To be honest there wasn’t much happening, though we always had work on the Linde forklift to fall back on.” Linde was one of several major third-party contracts at Weissach.
Lapine retired after a heart attack in 1988, and his replacement, Harm Lagaaij, began in late 1989. Tony’s first recollections of the 993 are from the end of that year. “We started in early 1990. I was very pleased to be working on the new air-cooled 911.”
He describes the particular challenge of creating a new 911: “The Porsche board always had very firm ideas about its shape. It was claimed the 964 was 80 per cent new, but visually it looked barely 20 per cent new. We needed to do something less conservative, but without being too radical.
The front of the 959, the plans for the 989 four-door and the facelifts for the 928 showed the way in terms of the frontal aspect – this new, smoothed front became part of Porsche’s design vocabulary.”
Hatter is reluctant to acknowledge that budget constraints had a significant impact on the exterior design of the 993. “We did redesign the windscreen wipers, even if they didn’t fall below the level of the bonnet.”
And it must be admitted that mounting the wipers centrally as a pair made their operation far more effective. “Don’t forget that the body in white is essentially that 1963 car. There’s a limit to what you can do so, for example, you have to maintain things like the rain gutters. What I really wanted to do with those was ‘flow’ them into the rear of the car – that was difficult.
For the full interview with the Porsche 993’s designer, Tony Hatter, pick up your copy of Total 911 issue 183 in shops now or get it delivered to your door via here. You can also download a digital copy with high definition bonus galleries to any Apple or Android device.