Meet the Filipino Car Designer Whose Magic Touch Created the Iconic Porsche 964

Image credit: stuttcars.com

Automologist Atherton shines a spotlight on an iconic car designer who hails from the Philippines. 

Michelangelo’s work on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is still talked about and revered till today, more than 500 years later. Steve Jobs and the game-changing iPhone with its out-of-this-world features took the industry by storm, and the world never looked back. The names of these artists and their works of art will be forever etched in history.

In the automotive industry, few cars have that kind of effect. When I was growing up, the Porsche 917, Lamborghini Countach and the Ferrari F40 set the world on fire—these cars had a magical presence that left you spellbound and transported you to another realm. I remember that one of the Autobots (the good robots!) from the cartoon Transformers was a Porsche. Yup, based on a Porsche 935.

The Porsche 964 had that same enchantment. Thanks to Benjamin Dimson, a Filipino native raised in Manila, the iconic 964 is celebrated with such fervour. Firstly, one must understand the enormity of the task of designing it as the 911 already had a set-in-stone design theme (the 911 has only undergone incremental changes throughout the years).

Image source: 911-guide.com

Dimson was not given a blank canvas to design on but tasked to work on a design that had divinity status amongst its flock of followers. From that original concept, he had to design a car for the near future and one that will endear to the fans.

The Porsche 964, thanks to his brilliant design cues, is now made even more famous by Singer Vehicle Design, a bespoke firm that produces awesome upgrades for the select few and sits at the top of ‘reimagined’ masterpieces.

But the basic design foundation laid by Dimson still reverberates around the world. Information about the man is pretty hard to come by; nevertheless, I managed to put some bits together to give you an idea of the person.

Growing up in Manila, he loved the cars that he saw and would endlessly draw sketches of cars. He was exposed to American, European and Japanese cars and decided that designing cars was what he was going to do.

He studied Industrial Engineering in Adamson University in Manila and went on to pursue design in the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California.

After completing his degree in design in California, he went to Europe and got himself his first job in Porsche. What a way to start! He was with the Stuttgart giant for seven years before moving to Mercedes-Benz.

During his seven years with Porsche, he designed the ultra-gorgeous Porsche 964 in 1986. It featured significant styling revisions over previous 911 models, like the integrated bumpers (fenders), side sills, rear lamp panel and rear spoiler. It was the first generation 911 to be offered with Porsche’s optional Tiptronic automatic transmission and all-wheel drive as options, of which 62,172 units were built.

Dimson also lent his artistic genius to the 928 S-4, 944 Turbo, 944 Cabriolet, and later contributed to the design of the 959 and 964 Speedster, of which he was the lead exterior designer. He was also involved with Airbus Industries, Mooney Aircraft, and Linde Forklifts while at Porsche.

Dimson moved to Mercedes-Benz in 1989, then for a brief stint in Audi, before returning to Mercedes. In a short time, he had worked with the top three automotive companies in Germany.

Eventually, he became Mercedes’s chief designer at the company’s Advanced Design Studio (MBAD) in Irvine, California. At MBAD, Dimson developed the MCC-Swatch Car programme and the AAV show car.

The latter won Best in Show at the 1996 Detroit Auto SUV, and Dimson’s designs have been incorporated into the popular S-and C-Class Mercedes sedans and coupes.

Some of the cars you see, like the 2012 SLK and 2011 M-Class, were derived from his creative mind. At present, he is a senior design consultant for Story Dimson Design in Orange County.

Image source: fanmercedesbenz.com

Among all of his designs, he is best known for the Porsche 964, a car that for Porsche devotees stand like a beacon in the cathedral of craftsmanship. For that, we say maraming salamat (thank you very much) Mr. Benjamin Dimson.

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