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7. Bill Mitchell: Born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1912, Mitchell was the son of a Buick car dealer and designed - or oversaw the designing of - some of the greatest American cars of all time.

He spent his entire career in automobile design working for General Motors and is said to have helped them produce over 72.5 million cars. These designs included the classics: 1938 Cadillac Sixty Special, 1955-57 Chevrolet Bel Air and the 1961-76 Corvette Stingray.

chevrolet corvette

As a student, Mitchell attended art school and then went to work for Barron Collier Advertising in New York. In 1935, he was employed by Harley Earl to work for General Motors in the Art and Colour Section, becoming Chief Designer the following year.

By 1954 he was Director of Styling and, after Harley Earl’s enforced retirement (he had reached the company’s age limit of 65) in 1958, Mitchell became Vice President, Styling Section. On his appointment he set about ‘streamlining’ the designs – eliminating excess chrome and fat fins.

In the 1960s he developed the ‘sheer look’ of a ‘shoulder-less’ drop from a car’s windows to its sides, thereby improving the aerodynamics of the vehicle. Mitchell was always pushing inventive ideas - Buick’s 1963 Riviera model was created after he gave his designers the task of combining Rolls Royce and Ferrari styling. Frameless glass in the front doors helped to make this new design even sleeker.

He retired from General Motors in 1977 and ran William L Mitchell Design until 1984. Mitchell died of heart failure in 1988, at the age of 76.

jaguar design

8. Ian Callum: Born in Dumfries, Scotland in 1954, as a child Callum attended Morrison’s Academy. He later studied at Lanchester Polytechnic (now Coventry University), Glasgow School of Art (where he achieved a degree in Industrial Design) and then The Royal College of Art, London (where he gained a Masters in Vehicle Design).

Callum worked for Ford between 1979 and 1990 and while much of this work was on ‘bits of cars, mostly steering wheels’ he also contributed to the Ford RS200 and the Ford Escort RS Cosworth with Peter Horbury.

 In 1990, Callum left the ‘safety’ of the corporate job and formed TWR Design with Peter Stevens and Tom Walkinshaw. He was now working in a ‘little tin shed in Kidlington’ -of which he says his former colleges ‘thought he was utterly mad.’ It was during this time that he helped to design the Aston Martin DB7, the Aston Martin Vanquish and ran design programs for Volvo, Mazda and HSV.

aston martin

Callum was appointed Design Director at Jaguar in 1999 – achieving a dream of working for the company that he had held since the age of 14, when he sent them a car design - in the hope of getting a job. His initial contributions included the concept car 2001 Jaguar R-Coupe, a 2001 revision of the Jaguar S-Type and 2004 Jaguar X-Type Estate. In 2006 came Callum’s first break with the retro models of the Geoff Lawson era - with the Jaguar XK, followed by the 2015 Jaguar XE and 2016 Jaguar F-Pace. According to Callum ‘Jaguars should be perceived as cool cars’ and he was certainly pivotal in reinventing their styling for the contemporary market.
This year (2019) he was awarded a CBE for services to the British Car Industry. In June 2019 Callum stepped down as Director of Design at Jaguar; but will continue working for the company as a design consultant.

9. Chris Bangle: Born in Ravenna, Ohio in 1956, Bangle was the first American ‘Chief of Design’ for BMW Group, overseeing BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce. He earned a BSc in Design from the ArtCenter College of Design in California and a MSc degree in Industrial Design from Madison University, Wisconsin.

 Bangle’s career began at Opel in Germany in 1981, where his first design was the interior of the Opel Junior concept car. He moved to Fiat in 1985 and went on to create the Second Generation Fiat Panda, the Fiat Coupe and the Alfa Romeo 145.

He moved to BMW as the Chief of Design in 1992 and went on to design the modern legend that is the Z9 Gran Turismo concept car.

But his career has not been without controversy. Bangle himself admits that his cars ‘don’t look good in photos’ and many of his critics believe that these ‘deconstructivist’ designs lack any ‘beauty.’ Marc Newson, an industrial designer and car enthusiast said the BMW Z4 (E85) looked like it had been ‘designed with a machete.’

bmw m6

Despite this, under Bangle BMW overtook Mercedes as the global leader in premium car sales. During the Bangle era at BMW, his designs could be seen throughout the entire line-up – and included, among others, the BMW 6-Series (E63) and 5-Series (E65).

Bangle left BMW in 2009 to work for his own firm Chris Bangle Associates, based in Italy.

10. Peter Stevens: Born in the United Kingdom in 1943, both of Stevens parents were artists and his uncle was the motor racing journalist Denis Jenkinson. Stevens studied Sculpture at Central St Martin’s College, London, then Industrial Design at the Royal College of Art, London.

To say he has had a full career in automobile design is an enormous understatement. This formidable career began at Ford in 1970 and in 1973 he became Senior Designer at Ogle Design. In the 1980s he spent 5 years as Chief Designer at Lotus, where he was instrumental in developing the Lotus Esprit revision and the Lotus Elan (M100). In 1989 he designed the Jaguar XJR-15.

lotus elan

Between 1990-1993, Stevens was Chief Designer at McLaren, where he was responsible for designing the Formula One car - launched in 1993. He returned to Peter Stevens Design in 1993 and could boast among his clients: Audi, Lamborghini, Benetton F1, Virgin Atlantic, TATA Motors, Prodrive, Williams and Toyota.

In 2000, Bangle became Design Director at MG Rover Group and since 2005 he has been Consultant Director of Design for Mahindra and Mahindra -highly influencing the XUV500 SUV. Always interested in the innovation, between 2011-2012 Stevens was Director of Design at green car manufacturer Rivian Automotive.

Today, Stevens is a consultant, design and lecturer.

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Posted on 26th June 2019 at 9:55 PM

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