Anatole Lapine, the lead designer behind such Porsche models as the 924, 944 and 928, has died at the age of 81. Lapine joined Porsche in 1969 as head of the Style Porsche design studio, a job he held until 1988.

Michael Mauer, Porsche’s current chief designer, said of Lapine’s passing, “Anatole Lapine shaped Porsche sports car design over more than two decades. As a designer he didn’t follow fashion but was forever setting new trends with his concepts.”

The Porsche 928, penned by Wolfgang Möbius under the direction of Anatole Lapine, was originally intended to replace the iconic Porsche 911, which was viewed as having too narrow an appeal. More grand-tourer than outright sports car (although still possessed with exceptional handling), the Porsche 928 was produced for some 18 years with very few changes in exterior styling.

Anatole Lapine got his start in the automotive world as an apprentice mechanic with Daimler-Benz. He later attended the Hamburg Wagenbauschule (roughly “auto construction school”) before landing a job with General Motors in its advanced body engineering department in 1952.

In 1965, Lapine returned to Germany to head the Opel Research Center, a position he held prior to his tenure with Porsche.

In addition to overseeing the styling of numerous Porsche models, Lapine and his team helped further the scope of Porsche Design with their work on numerous third-party design projects.