While some senior car company executives spend their entire career with one manufacturer, the ones who bounce around the industry tend to end up with the more interesting tales.
None has packed more into their professional life than Jost Capito, today head of Volkswagen’s R GmbH performance division but with a CV that seems to be pretty much all highlights. Now a youthful 60, the German says he hopes to end his career at Volkswagen but admits that his non-linear life has been fun.
The biggest adventures came early on. As a teenager Capito had been a successful endurance bike racer and – as a young graduate engineer at BMW – he and his father entered the Paris-Dakar rally in a Unimog, winning the truck class in 1985. “I learned a huge amount about teamwork,” he says, “but I had taken my whole year’s vacation. I came back and was completely destroyed, with no holiday for the rest of the year.”
He had joined BMW from university driven by his passion to work at M division under legendary engine designer Paul Rosche. His first project was the four-cylinder engine for the E30 M3 – Capito did the intake and exhaust manifolds. He started to climb the corporate ladder but was wary of specialising too soon – Rosche’s nickname in German translates as ‘Camshaft Paul’ – so in 1989 he took up an offer to move to Porsche’s race department. Capito was responsible for the one-make cars and soon found buyers lobbying for road-going versions. “There was so much demand that we pushed the board until they gave us approval,” he remembers. “It was the 964 RS, the first road car from the Race division. I promised to sell 1400 cars and we ended up making 5000.”