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Old 12th March 2015, 16:24   #1
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Default Know your car designers!

Design can simply not escape a conversation when speaking about cars, it is the first impression and sometimes the only impression a person has when he thinks of a brand. Over here as well we find ourselves debating the looks of a car when its either newly launched or refreshed. Design is a perspective, while everyone has their opinion no one is truly correct when they say something works or something doesn't. Radical-impractical designs used in concepts are often watered down to become the new generation of cars tomorrow.

Like everyone else, I too have my opinions when it comes to design & I find it interesting to study the thought-processes behind chief-designers of popular automobile companies. Some are just busting with creativity while others take a practical grounding approach, some love the curves & take out their compasses while others use the scale to create sharp edges. Wouldn't we all like to know the names behind those who created/inspired the shapes of popular cars that we love & drive today? The following list mentions a few designers I'm familiar with, all of the names to follow have/had a great degree of autonomy in creating their designs and have truly changed the landscape over the past 2 decades.

Chris Bangle
Citizen : American
Past : Fiat, BMW
Present : Samsung

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No list can ever be complete without Bangle, he has been anything but conservative in his designs starting from the "bangled" E39 to the shape-shifting Gina. While many at that point slammed his design of the 7 Series, I actually think the subsequent face-lift/rear-tuck was the best 7 Series ever due to its limo-like proportions. Its also said that his assistant Adrian van Hooydonk was equally responsible for the design and implementation. Before leaving the company, his final concept was the fabric-skin bodied car Gina which had the ability to open and shut its headlights like eyelids.
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Featured above the much panned 7 Series rear end & E60 M5

Adrian van Hooydonk
Citizen : Netherlands & Germany
Present : BMW

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As the assistant to Bangle, AV Hooydonk was the most suitable to take over from him and he did. While he hasn't been quite so revolutionary, he has been slowly chipping away at each design of all the models, consistently improving them by making them more practical & luxurious even with their inherent RWD, fantastic driving DNA. The F30 3, 4 Series and 3 GT are particularly the most adventurous changes he has been responsible for. Fans do not like paradigm shifts in the looks of their favourite brands & AvH knows it best.
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Featured above the F30 3 Series with its headlamps connecting the kidney grill. Its also the first time the angel rings haven't been completely round.

Walter de Silva
Citizen : Italy
Past : Alfa Romeo
Present : VWAG

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Few have the privilege that de Silva has, as a chief designer of the entire VWAG he has worked in Seat, Audi, VW & Lamborghini. However due the company's shift in production-idealogy i.e the shared platform across all sub-brands, I see that he cannot utilize all of his creativity to make the brands/models stand out from each other too much. The curved headlamp Golf Mk6/Mk5 Jetta for example look like a Polo's headlamp today in their current facelift. Profitability over exclusivity?
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Featured above with the Mk6 Golf

to be continued..
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Old 12th March 2015, 17:06   #2
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Gorden Wagener
Citizen : Germany
Present : Mercedes-Benz

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As someone who has grown up the ranks quite quickly, the chief designer of Mercedes-Benz Gorden Wagener's work has been pretty obvious. Mercedes has been struggling with a family-look across the range, the E-Class could never settle on a look. The 2015 range has those problems sorted out completely, as the family look has been established and even the C-Class looks like a mini S now. The interiors too have evolved and bear a Merc-standard across the range.
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Featured above the current C-Class

Shiro Nakamura
Citizen : Japan
Present : Nissan

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As chief designer of Nissan, Mr.Nakamura has also a big say on its sister brands, Datsun & Infiniti. Now in my view his designs are probably the most "adventurous", by that I mean you need a lot of confidence to release designs like that into production. His creations range from Nissan Leaf, a hybrid car to the Nissan Juke, GT-R & Infiniti-M. All these models bear striking curves that pop up out of nowhere and headlights that will catch you by surprise any time of the day. While critics & buyers have been merciless on the designs as can be expected, this designer seems to aim at changing what cars have always been.
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Featured above the Nissan Juke & Leaf

Thomas Burkle
Citizen : Germany
Past : BMW
Present : Hyundai

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As a chief of design operating out of the European Hyundai Design Centre in Russelsheim, Germany, Thomas Burkle has been one of the first to co-conceptualize & actually implement the fluidic-design philosophy on a production car. The i-Flow was the concept that started it all, and then the design spread to the Hyundai i30 & Elantra. Thomas has been instrumental in designing the interior & exteriors of the i30 which has been much loved in Europe for its build quality & looks. Other models which have received his inputs are the Santa-Fe, i20 & i10. His main influence as quoted is the flowing lines of wind, water and anything that is nature.
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Featured above the 2015 i30 Coupe

Peter Schreyer
Citizen : Germany
Past : VW/Audi, Kia
Present : Hyundai Group

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With the gift of the gab, and known for impromptu car design drawings in press-events, Peter Schreyer is evidently different. He quotes jazz music as his key inspiration when he sits down to conceptualize. Responsible for the Audi TT design back in the late 90's he was quickly recruited by Kia who found themselves improving vastly due to his designs. Hyundai Group has now made him the head of design for both Hyundai & Kia. Collaborating with Burkle, Schreyer has quickly made vast changes to the i10, i20 and Santa Fe for the Asian-European market under the tagline Fluidic Sculpture 2.0. He also has been fully responsible in re-designing the new generation Sonata & Genesis. The man loves to dress in black & knows a thing or 2 about cars too.
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Featured above the 2015 Hyundai Sonata
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Old 12th March 2015, 18:17   #3
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Default re: Know your car designers!

Adding one of my favourites -

Giorgetto Giugiaro
Citizen : Italy

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Notable designs:
  • BMW M1
  • Original VW Golf.
  • DeLorean DMC-12. (Back to the future films, to help everyone remember)
  • De Tomaso Mangusta (Google it if anyone hasn't seen this beauty).

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And more importantly for us -
  • FIAT Grande Punto. (Thats not the only reason why I like him! )
  • Daewoo Matiz
  • Daewoo Lacetti (Chevrolet Optra)
  • FIAT Palio

Last edited by CrAzY dRiVeR : 12th March 2015 at 18:29.
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Old 12th March 2015, 18:24   #4
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Great topic!

Laurens van den Acker

Here is my current favourite (other being Peter Schreyer), Adrian van Hooydonk's look alike, Laurens van den Acker, Head of Design, Renault. Was previously with Mazda and was responsible for the current design language. Even his sense of fashion is unique - notice his sneakers with a 3 piece suit!

At Renault, he's doing a great job, especially the new Clio, Twingo and Espace.
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Know your car designers!-renaultdesignbosslaurensvandenacker.jpg  

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Old 12th March 2015, 22:01   #5
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Default re: Know your car designers!

Great thread for a 'wanna be' car designer. Thanks for the same.

Adding one of my all time favorites:

Sergio Pininfarina (1926-2012)

Nationality:Italian
His Designs:
1.Austin 1800
2.Cadillac Allanté
3.Bentley Azure
4.Ferrari F40 (Lead designer)
5.Ferrari 328
6.Ferrari 360
7.Ferrari P4/5
8.Fiat Dino
9.Lancia Thema SW
10.Maserati Quattroporte
11.Morris 1100
12.Peugeot 306
13.Peugeot 504 Coupé/Cabrio
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Now attaching some of his notable designs:
Ferrari 328
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Cadillac Allanté
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Maserati Quattroporte
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Source:Google

Note: Sorry for the pictures provided which don't match the superb quality of the forum. These were some of the best in terms of photography which I could get.

Cheers,
Neel

Last edited by petrolhead_neel : 12th March 2015 at 22:08.
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Old 12th March 2015, 22:31   #6
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Default re: Know your car designers!

Giorgetto Giugiaro, my all time favorite, has to occupy a great place in here. This Italian automobile designer had worked on super cars and popular everyday vehicles.
Giugiaro was named Car Designer of the Century in 1999 and was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 2002.
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And our own Dilip Chhabria too.
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Last edited by rajeev k : 12th March 2015 at 22:36.
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Old 13th March 2015, 02:23   #7
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Chevrolet Beat / Spark
Name: Taewan Kim
Citizen : Korea
Past : British Airways > Daewoo > Fiat > General Motors
Present : General Motors

Having started his career in International Automotive Design in the United Kingdom in 1991, Kim was involved in designing various Japanese and European automobiles, including British Airway's First Class seat design.

From 1995, he served as Chief Exterior Designer at the former Daewoo Motor Company, leading the exterior design of the Magnus, Lacetti, Kalos and Matiz. In 2000, he moved to Fiat and participated in designs such as Cinquecento, Punto and Ducato. He joined GM Daewoo in January 2006 as Director of Advanced Design, was appointed Director of Exterior Design in November 2006 and has been Managing Director for Design Operations since February 2007.

Born in Seoul in 1960, Kim holds a master's degree in Vehicle Design from the Royal College of Art and a bachelor's degree of fine arts in Transport Design from Brigham Young University.

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Old 14th March 2015, 01:12   #8
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J Mays

He was the global design head for Ford. Previously with VW/Audi. He was responsible for most of the designs that we see on Fords today. He was instrumental in bringing about a new design language for Ford called Kinetic design. This styling theme spawned off successful MPVs like the C-Max, S-Max and the Galaxy, all based on the Focus platform. Even the Mondeo received a fresh lease of life and many still mistake it for an Aston.

If you like the current "Astonised" Ford Fiesta, you know who to thank! Recently retired after a long haul with Ford. An interestic bit about his name - His first name is J! Yes, it's not his initial.
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Old 14th March 2015, 05:48   #9
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@swiftdiesel - Thanks, Laurens van den Acker & J Mays are good additions to the thread as they have fresh ideas of how to re-invent a brand range. The Renaults in Europe look cool and funky unlike the Nissan badge-engineered *fail* models we get here. While Fords new Kinetic design looks great I only hope they don't copy paste it on every car like VW.

On a separate topic which I've been reminded of now, some people seem to assail certain brands on copying elements from much more luxurious brands, one example of this is Hyundai which does share elements of Bimmer/Audi, but the way I see it it's absolutely natural because the designers in Hyundai have a past in those two companies. While I do like the Aston Martin-like grille on a Ford, no one has criticised them for the copy just because Ford owned AM at a point (not anymore though). The problem is does the design truly belong to a "company" just because they funded and actualised it? Or is it an intellectual patent of the designer? To me its evident that its an intellectual patent and that's why great designers are hired, to add their touch. Each designer goes by his deepest instincts of what curves and lines should be and no corporate trademark can be put on that.

Also its difficult to patent functional element designs on vehicles & that's probably why companies don't even bother to do so or point out design similarities with other brands. It would be a futile money draining war in court.
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Old 14th March 2015, 10:35   #10
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Ehab Kaoud, Chief Designer, Ford North America for Ecosport.
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ALEC ISSIGONIS Automotive Designer (1906-1988) is best known as the creator of the Mini, but also designed two more of the five best-selling cars in British motoring history – the Morris Minor and the Austin 1100.
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Last edited by rajeev k : 14th March 2015 at 10:48.
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Old 14th March 2015, 16:49   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dark.knight View Post
@swiftdiesel - Thanks, Laurens van den Acker & J Mays are good additions to the thread as they have fresh ideas of how to re-invent a brand range. The Renaults in Europe look cool and funky unlike the Nissan badge-engineered *fail* models we get here. While Fords new Kinetic design looks great I only hope they don't copy paste it on every car like VW.
Absolutely agree! Renault has an awesome design portfolio in Europe. Quite an irony to realise that none of the models badged in India as Renault are actually from their stable. How hard is it to localise the Clio or the Scenic? Not sure why.

With Ford, I reckon they're actually aiming for one global design theme according to their One Ford philosophy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dark.knight View Post
On a separate topic which I've been reminded of now, some people seem to assail certain brands on copying elements from much more luxurious brands, one example of this is Hyundai which does share elements of Bimmer/Audi, but the way I see it it's absolutely natural because the designers in Hyundai have a past in those two companies. While I do like the Aston Martin-like grille on a Ford, no one has criticised them for the copy just because Ford owned AM at a point (not anymore though). The problem is does the design truly belong to a "company" just because they funded and actualised it? Or is it an intellectual patent of the designer? To me its evident that its an intellectual patent and that's why great designers are hired, to add their touch. Each designer goes by his deepest instincts of what curves and lines should be and no corporate trademark can be put on that.
The reason why Hyundai and Kia are mentioned in the same breath as other European brands is courtesy their all new design language. Small wonder they opened studios in Europe and "hijacked" some top notch guys (read Peter Schreyer) to Korea. Before Peter was hired, Hyundai and Kia had no sense of design direction. Most of their models went into oblivion since people couldn't put an brand identity behind those designs. Mr. Schreyer started with Kia first and one of his first tasks was to create a brand identity. He came up with this unique tiger grille interpretation, a la BMW's kidney grille.

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Kia Tiger Nose/Grill Identity Copyright: Respective Owners

With an all new identity in place, churning out models was a piece of cake for his design team. Right here in Edinburgh, the new Kias look so cool that I need to pass a second glance at them. If not for the badge, the design holds the same European flair as some other premium offerings here. Also I find more people recognising Kia and liking to be seen driving one. His design direction in Kia was so good that Hyundai has made him the head of design for Hyundai/Kia. There are some other (probably his old mates) European guys in his design team.

Likewise, the MINI was brought back to life in its newest retro interpretation by another German, Gert Hildebrand.

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Copyright: Respective Owners

His take on the all new MINI was a runaway success that BMW was able to reap rewards for resurrecting an British icon. Different models were spawned off from the same platform and you couldn't mistake a MINI for anything else on the road. In my opinion, that's a tough nut to crack - to create an all new brand identity and also staying true to its heritage identity. He's no more with MINI and currently MINI is adopting a cartoony design theme with oversized lights that lack the flair and elegance of Gert's design. I'm not a huge fan of the recent ones after his departure. The Chinese saw his worth and hired him to work for an all new company called Qoros.

Within months of hiring him, we could see his influence there. He had a play around with the first letter "Q" and came up with an identity that interprets that Q. Very interesting take I say and I like his interpretation on a sedan. Here's a sample image:

Know your car designers!-qorosdesignsketch3.jpg

Source: gmotors.co.uk

This is th Qoros 3 sedan. You will notice (as you rightly mentioned) influences of BMW design in the rear quarter, especially the tail lamps. Nevertheless, it looks good and gives the car a solid stance. I'm sure that's what the Chinese were after to contend with established brands.

Know your car designers!-qoros3sedan22.jpg

Copyright: Respective Owners

You will notice more number of European designers being poached by Asian companies because they're after the same design flair of established brands.
Yes, it's to hard to patent and car companies are careful to choose their battles. Nobody wants another "Apple vs Samsung" lawsuit happening.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dark.knight View Post
Also its difficult to patent functional element designs on vehicles & that's probably why companies don't even bother to do so or point out design similarities with other brands. It would be a futile money draining war in court.
If patenting is the norm, then brands like Mercedes are taking cues from the Koreans! I like Gordon Wagoner for the all new direction he's taken for Mercedes Benz. But I find that the hind part of all his designs aren't cohesive with the rest of the car. They look more Korean and not synchronised with the rest of the design. Check out the CLA's rear for example:

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Gone are the tight seamed angular lines of the front. The rear looks bulky, disproportionate and check out those curves. Terrible! It's an amalgamation of a 6 pack tummy at the front and a botox'd butt Sorry, I'm sure many may like it but I'm not too keen on his rear interpretation. I reckon that's the challenge with most designers: they're able to nail the front with identity et al but the rear always seems like an after thought. Skoda seems to be an exception here with taut looking rears and has an overall pleasing aesthetic design appeal, thanks to Jozef Kaban, another one of my favourites. I'll reserve that for another post but yeah a real interesting discussion. Thanks!
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Old 14th March 2015, 21:27   #12
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Cool thread. I too am planning to pursue automotive design and hopefully won't disappoint. I find old cars quite a lot prettier than new ones hence my favourite designers are also from the past.

1. Sergio Scaglietti:
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The man behind the 250 GTO,the most pretty car IMO. His coachbuilding firm is now under Ferrari. Ferrari also dedicated two cars after him,the 456 Scaglietti and 612 Scaglietti. The cars he is responsible for are:

1958 250 Testa Rossa
1955 Ferrari 410 Sport
1955 Ferrari 500 Mondial Series II
1954 Ferrari 250 Monza
1956 Ferrari 290 MM
1956 Ferrari 860 Monza
1958 Chevrolet Corvette Scaglietti Coupe
1957 250 California Spider
1962 250 GTO
1955 Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France

2. Malcolm Sayer:
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Now this man was the genius behind the great evergreen E-type. Also was responsible for the Dtype which inspired the Etype and original XK. He was also an aircraft designer which explains his obsession with aerodynamics .
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Old 14th March 2015, 22:01   #13
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Giovanni Michelotti was one of the most prolific designers of sports cars in the 20th century. His notable contributions were for Ferrari, Lancia, Maserati and Triumph marques.
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and the Triumph Herald stands out.
Know your car designers!-triumph_herald_.jpg

Last edited by rajeev k : 14th March 2015 at 22:03.
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Old 15th March 2015, 11:29   #14
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What about Bertone?
Some of his designs were the BEST!
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Old 16th March 2015, 07:23   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrAzY dRiVeR View Post
Adding one of my favourites -

Giorgetto Giugiaro
Citizen : Italy

Attachment 1349019

Notable designs:[list][*]BMW M1[*]Original V............
  • ............
  • FIAT Grande Punto. (Thats not the only reason why I like him! )
  • Daewoo Matiz
  • Daewoo Lacetti (Chevrolet Optra)
  • FIAT Palio
Hello crazy driver,
This is a most useful thread to initiate and it really should have been started earlier........never mind, better late than never!

My love for cars & things automotive goes without saying, otherwise I would not have been a member of this great forum. My generation - I'm 62 - sadly did not have the advantage (of the internet and its instant, and potentially unlimited, reservoir of information on tap!) of the current lot of enthusiasts. Also now in India, one has the marvelous opportunity of walking into a showroom and seeing, in the flesh, all the stunning creations by today's front-line designers that you have presented so well.

I also feel that one ought to give more than a passing nod to the eminent designers of yore. As I have mentioned elsewhere in these columns, I remember the days, when, as a schoolboy in '67-'68, walking surreptitiously into the British Council library in Lucknow (accompanied by an equally wary group of friends!) and picking out the current issue of Illustrated London News (now defunct I believe) and with extreme caution cutting out the centre spread featuring the original Maserati Ghibli! As all enthusiasts know this sublime design too was created by the immortal Giugiaro, before he left Ghia to start Ital Design. There was Tom Tjaarda (of deTomaso Pantera fame and the VW Karmann-Ghia on which too he had worked), Vittorio Jano, the Hungarian designer/engineer, who created such pre-war classics as the Alfa P3 grand prix cars. Jano unfortunately committed suicide in 1965 when his son died (around the same time as Dino, Enzo Ferrari's own son) and he became convinced that the world had no further use for him. This was life - as it still is, as witness De Lorean and the unfortunate drug scandal involving his family that effectively ended his career - in the fast lane at the cutting edge of automotive development.

I also hope/wish that one would start a thread on eminent automotive (both 4 & 2-wheelers) engineers down the years. Names that spring to mind - such as Mr. Jano, Ferdinand Porsche, Gioacchino Colombo, Mark Birkigt, Fabio Taglioni(desmodromic vv gear), Edward Turner(Triumph), Kozo Watanabe (Skyline GTR), Vernon Gleason (Torsen differential), Ichiro Suzuki (of Lexus fame) and a myriad others, both pre- and post-war - should, I'm sure, find place in such a thread!
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