NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

Chuck Jordan, former GM design chief, dead at 83

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Chuck Jordan, former GM design chief, dead at 83

AutoWeek -- December 10, 2010 - 1:44 pm ET

Chuck Jordan, the legendary designer who helped usher in the modern era of styling at General Motors, died Thursday in California. He was 83.

Jordan is credited with a long list of iconic GM designs at a time when the automaker set the tone for style throughout the industry - mostly during the 1950s and '60s. He was just the fourth man to hold the position of vice president of GM design, which he did from 1986 until his retirement in 1992.

He joined GM in 1949 after graduating from MIT. Jordan quickly made his mark on a number of areas, working on projects as diverse as tractors and locomotives. He got a big break when he moved to the advanced design studio and worked on several Motorama cars, an eye-catching collection of concepts that toured the United States in the '50s.

His career at GM included stints as design director at Cadillac and Opel, as well as oversight of exterior styling for GM's premium brands.

He followed Irv Rybicki, Bill Mitchell and Harley Earl at the helm of GM design, a mantle that has since been carried by Wayne Cherry and Ed Welburn.

Jordan's wife, Sally, said her husband died at 8:25 p.m. She said she plans to start a scholarship in his name at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit.

In one of his final public appearances, Jordan was upbeat this summer at the Concours of America Meadow Brook in suburban Detroit, where his restored Motorama cars were on display.

"The beauty of the Motorama cars is we tried different ideas," he recounted at the time in an interview with .AutoWeek., a sister publication to .Automotive News.

Jordan was born on Oct. 21, 1927, in Whittier, Calif. Plans for a memorial service are pending.

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20101210/OEM03/101219984/1424#ixzz17jpAYOio

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Rest in peace, Mr. Jordan. You penned my favorite GM vehicles, the '55-'59 GMC & Chevy truck lineup and I will be forever grateful to all of your contributions to GM. When the day comes when I finally get my '55-'57 GMC pickup, I'll nickname it "Chuck the Truck" in your honor.

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Fabled GM design chief Chuck Jordan dead at 83

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Charles Jordan, better known as 'Chuck,' was the driving force behind the modern design era at General Motors. After graduating from MIT in 1949, Jordan joined the GM design staff in the role of Junior Engineer. Throughout the years, Chuck Jordan rose through the ranks and designed some amazing vehicles. One notable design includes the GM Motorama-featured 1956 Buick Centurion Concept.

Other vehicles that you may have heard of, which featured Jordan's guidance, include:

-1958 Chevrolet Corvette

-1959 Cadillac Eldorado

-1968 Opel GT

-1970 Opel Manta

-1992 Cadillac STS

That is just a partial list that can be filled with the Oldsmobile Aurora, a handful of Camaro models and a lot of stylish concepts.

Chuck Jordan was just the fourth person elected to the position of Vice President of Design, a position he held from 1986 until his retirement in 1992. He passed away in the evening hours of Thursday, December 9.

link:

http://www.autoblog.com/2010/12/10/fabled-gm-design-chief-chuck-jordan-dead-at-83/

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Legendary GM design chief Chuck Jordan dies at 83

By GREG MIGLIORE AND MARK VAUGHN on 12/10/2010

jordan1.jpg

A few minutes in the shade with Chuck Jordan

UPDATED -- Chuck Jordan, the legendary designer who helped usher in the modern era of car styling at General Motors, died on Thursday evening, Dec. 9. He was 83.

Jordan is credited with a long list of iconic designs at GM at a time when the company set the tone for style in the industry in the 1950s and '60s. He was just the fourth man to hold the position of vice president of design, which he did from 1986 until his retirement in 1992.

He joined GM in 1949 after graduating from MIT. Jordan quickly made his mark on a number of areas, working on projects as diverse as tractors and locomotives. He got a big break when he moved to the advanced design studio and worked on several of the Motorama cars, an eye-catching collection of concepts that toured the United States in the '50s.

His long career at GM included stints as design director of Cadillac and Opel and in oversight of exterior styling for GM's premium brands.

He followed Irv Rybicki, Bill Mitchell and Harley Earl at the helm of GM design, a mantle that has since been carried by Wayne Cherry and Ed Welburn.

Current GM design chief Ed Welburn said: "Chuck Jordan was the person who hired me as an intern in 1971 while he was working for Bill Mitchell, and I will always be appreciative of the opportunity he gave me to join GM's Design Organization.

"He was a strong creative force at GM Design, and a passionate leader. It always felt as if every new project he was leading represented a new mountain to climb, and was a fresh opportunity to create new trends and statements in automotive design. He had the charisma and passion of few others in the industry."

In one of his final public appearances, Jordan was upbeat this summer at the Concours d'Elegance of America at Meadow Brook in suburban Detroit, where his restored Motorama cars were on display.

“The beauty of the Motorama cars is we tried different ideas,” he recounted in an interview with AW.

Jordan was born on Oct. 21, 1927, in Whittier, Calif. Survivors include his wife, Sally, and a son, Mark, who works as a designer for Mazda. Memorial arrangements are pending.

Passion for design

Cherry said he considered Jordan “the quintessential designer, the designer's designer.”

“I'll always remember his commitment to high standards and aesthetic excellence. He will be missed,” Cherry said.

He said one of his favorite memories of Jordan is when they would tour auto shows together, particularly European auto shows, looking at the work of competitors. Cherry spent 25 years working at and leading GM's design efforts in Europe before replacing Jordan as corporate design chief in 1992.

“I learned a lot from Chuck. It's a very sad day,” Cherry said on Friday.

Former Chrysler design chief Tom Gale said: "I respected him greatly. I remember when I was just starting out, you knew about him him a long time before you ever met him. We always enjoyed a great relationship even though we were competitors.

"His contributions to design go back to the late '50s. He was part of the (Fisher Body) Craftsman's Guild. I think he and Dave Holls made a huge contribution to the '59 Cadillac, the one with the big fins. And of course all the muscle car things came along thereafter."

David Locze, a designer at Volvo, worked for Jordan for 15 years at GM, from 1965 to 1980.

“Chuck is probably one of the most visionary people I've ever known; he was always pushing for the guys to explore originality and newness. I really respected him for that,” Locze said.

“I worked for him in the best era of all, the muscle-car era, from 1965 to 1980. He had a spirit and a light in his eye. When he talked to you, his eyes would light up.

“When I left GM and moved on to Volkswagen, my own company and then to Volvo, I carried over the joy of working on something you really liked, without the politics. Chuck always thought the politics got in the way of actually designing. He wasn't very political; he was just always about good, solid design. He always emphasized that and I have always carried it with me.”

Jordan's drive for the best designs and to get the best from his designers meant there were times he dispensed with pleasantries.

In the 1996 book All Corvettes Are Red by James Schefter, which chronicled the development of the 1997 Chevrolet Corvette, Jordan was known as the “Chrome Cobra” by those who worked in GM's design department.

“He earned the sobriquet honestly. Jordan could be acerbic when he critiqued designs and capricious in dealing with real or imagined offenses,” Schefter wrote.

Locze, the Volvo designer said, “He wasn't really stern but at the same time, he was pretty direct.”

Education was also important to Jordan. He remained involved with teaching design after his retirement from GM. But he always had a passion for cars.

Stewart Reed, chairman of transportation design at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., recalled, “I was down seeing him about a year ago. He had completed the last pledge of a gift to Art Center. We needed to take two cars to lunch. Chuck said, ‘I'll get the Ferrari out.' It was a 456 GT. It was so cool following him because he was driving very vigorously. He got out and he just smiled.”

Dale Jewett contributed to this report

Chuck Jordan's car

Some of the vehicles that Chuck Jordan played a role in designing:

-- GM Aerotrain

-- Cameo show truck

-- Buick Centurion

-- 1958 Chevy Corvette

-- 1959 Cadillac Eldorado

-- Opel Manta concept

-- 1968 Opel GT

-- Oldsmobile Aerotech

-- GM Ultralite

-- Stingray III

-- Buick Reatta

-- 1992 Cadillac CTS

Statement from GM design vice president Ed Welburn

“Chuck Jordan was the person who hired me as an intern in 1971 while he was working for Bill Mitchell, and I will always be appreciative of the opportunity he gave me to join GM's Design Organization. Chuck was always involved in the hiring of talented, young designers, and he took great interest in their growth and development.

“He was a strong creative force at GM Design, and a passionate leader. It always felt as if every new project he was leading represented a new mountain to climb, and was a fresh opportunity to create new trends and statements in automotive design. He had the charisma and passion of few others in the industry.

“Most people associate Chuck Jordan with very tailored and crisp designs of Cadillac and Corvette automobiles, but Chuck also had a passion for truck design and created some of GM's most significant concept and production trucks of the 1950s.

“More recently, I'm glad that Chuck had an opportunity to visit GM Design just this past summer while he was back in the Detroit area for the Meadow Brook Concours d'Elegance. He spent hours touring our Design Center in Warren and talking with our design staff. It was a wonderful to have him back in the place in which he helped create such a rich legacy.”

Read more: http://www.autoweek.com/article/20101210/CARNEWS/101219992#ixzz17lix4000

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Chuck always gets slighted because of Earl and Mitchell.

Chuck had two tough acts to follow and I think he did a very good job! Many foget he had many more models to oversee than the other two did and he had to share more parts than the others. His time at GM was not at all an easy one.

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Chuck Jordan, 83, gave Cadillac new look in '90s

Mike Colias

Automotive News -- December 13, 2010 - 12:01 am ET

Chuck Jordan, the former General Motors design chief whose motto, "no dull cars," led to the rejuvenated Cadillac designs of the early 1990s, died last week at his San Diego home. He was 83.

In 1986 Jordan became the fourth design chief in GM's history. At the time, GM was under fire for years of staid and uninspiring designs.

In the six years before his retirement in 1992, Jordan's team produced the early-'90s Cadillac Seville and Eldorado, the '90s-generation of Chevrolet Camaros and Pontiac Firebirds and the Oldsmobile Aurora.

Jordan was known as a blunt-spoken risk taker who sometimes showed disdain for the sales side of the business.

"When too much emphasis is placed on the results from clinics and focus groups, or when brand management has too great a say, it becomes styling to the lowest common denominator," Jordan said in a 2001 Automotive News interview.

"If everyone agrees on something, no one will want to buy it," he said. "A car has to have a wow factor about it."

Jordan also was capable of acknowledging his misfires.

"I should have been more astute with the [1991 Chevrolet] Caprice," he said in the same interview.

The California native's GM career began in 1949, when he was hired out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to work as a junior engineer in GM's design division.

He took on a hodgepodge of eccentric design assignments in his early days, including development of a "new-look" tractor and a locomotive concept.

In the 1950s he worked on several dream cars for GM's Motorama, a showcase of eye-catching concepts that traveled the United States. The 1956 Buick Centurion was one of his earliest designs.

In 1957 Jordan became Cadillac's head designer. He soon created the outlandish tail fins on the 1959 Cadillac Eldorado -- a design decision he described as "letting a tiger out of the cage -- saying go!"

Jordan spent the late 1960s at GM's Opel division in Germany.

In retirement, Jordan moved to the San Diego area, where he taught automotive design.

His wife, Sally, plans to start a scholarship in her husband's name at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit.

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20101213/OEM02/312139948/1432#ixzz180246fXd

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Farewell Chuck Jordan

by Paul Eisenstein (RSS feed) on Dec 16th 2010 at 3:32PM

gmexeccharlesjordan60-630op.jpg

Even for those who didn't know him during his glory days, Chuck Jordan was a familiar face on the auto show circuit. Slowed only a bit by a stroke, he was still present at a surprising number of the major shows, squeezed in with the assorted reporters, photographers and videographers, paying close attention to – and offering his perceptions on – the latest and greatest the industry could roll out.

I last saw Chuck Jordan earlier this year, not long before his death last week at the age of 83. The silver-white hair had thinned and the face was a bit gaunt, but he was still the trim and dapper silver fox I first met shortly before he assumed the design helm at General Motors. As only the fourth global styling chief in GM's history, Jordan was a powerful man – too much so, contended his critics – one whose simple whim could transform or even kill an entire product program.

Jordan was a powerful man – too much so, contended his critics. In his early years, the young designer earned kudos for stand-out efforts like the 1958 Corvette and, most notoriously, the '59 Cadillac Eldorado, with its over-the-top tailfins – which Jordan likened to "letting the tiger out of the cage." He was a critical force in the golden era of GM design, when the maker's striking approach to styling helped it capture more than half of the overall U.S. new car market.

By the time he assumed the title of vice president of the General Motors Design Staff, on October 6, 1986, however, GM was already in a steep decline. And the company Jordan left six years later was at best a hobbled giant. Today, looking back, it's disheartening to realize how few truly significant products made it through his lavishly-furnished office at the General Motors Technical Center.

Paul A. Eisenstein is Publisher of TheDetroitBureau.com, and a 30-year veteran of the automotive beat. His editorials bring his unique perspective and deep understanding of the auto world to Autoblog readers on a regular basis.

I met Jordan shortly before he got that big promotion. He was sitting alongside his predecessor, Irv Rybicki, in the office he had yet to occupy, ready to be interviewed for a magazine story I was working on. GM had been hammered by the twin oil shocks of the 1970s, and the subsequent rise of the imports. But it had begun to fight back with an assortment of downsized products, like the Chevrolet Cavalier and its sibling J-Cars.

A new line of midsize sedans and coupes, collectively dubbed the A-Cars, were ready to follow and Rybicki and Jordan were supremely confident that GM would retain dominance in that critical segment. But what about the new Ford Taurus, I asked, referring to the original '86 sedan that was getting initial rave reviews. "That jellybean car...?" Jordan began, he voice tailing off as if just that put-down was enough to dismiss Ford's chances.

Despite GM Design's declining image, Jordan remained an imperious and proud figure. Of course, that original Taurus proved the winner of that battle. The A-Cars took the critical drubbing – a famous cover of Forbes magazine showing four otherwise look-alike models from different GM divisions lined up side-by-side, indistinguishable. The General's badge-engineering strategy might have been designed to lower costs – though with relatively little success – but it destroyed the company's reputation for styling leadership, mantles that Ford, and later Chrysler, were quick to claim.

Despite GM Design's declining image, Jordan remained an imperious and proud figure. It was always interesting to go up for an interview. His office was covered with, of all things, an assortment of Ferrari parts and memorabilia. Only someone with the fierce self-confidence of a Chuck Jordan could keep a prancing pony parked in the garage next to the Tech Center's Design Dome.

To be fair, there were at least a few significant efforts to come out of the Jordan-era studios, such as the Buick Reatta, and the first-generation Oldsmobile Aurora and Cadillac STS sedans, as well as the Oldsmobile Aerotech and Sting Ray III concepts. But they were far too few and far between to either establish a solidly positive legacy or, more importantly, stave off the steady decline in GM's market share.

It also needs be stressed that it was a time of turmoil at GM, and perhaps worst of all, Jordan, like all the senior product-side managers, had to report to that ultimate of bean-counters, General Motors' Chairman and CEO Roger Smith. The lead inmate was running the asylum.

A castrated design department was perhaps the saddest part of the Chuck Jordan legacy. Even so, Jordan wielded significant power, so much so that upon his November 1992 retirement, rivals made sure to clip the wings of design successor, Wayne Cherry. The humbled and quiet Cherry spent much of his own tenure taking orders and watching as the hacks and bullies neutered seemingly every good design his team could come up with. A castrated design department was perhaps the saddest part of the Chuck Jordan legacy.

Anyone who questions the potential role of design just has to look at recent GM history. The lack of visually striking products was as critical to the maker's eventual bankruptcy as its chaotic and incoherent business strategy. When he joined the company a decade ago, Bob Lutz tried to set it right. He had once derided GM products as "angry appliances," and was determined to allow the designers do what was needed again.

Cherry's successor, Ed Welburn, isn't the emperor of decade's past. Nor does he have the temperament of a Harley Earl, Bill Mitchell – or Chuck Jordan. But he's nonetheless relished the opportunity to make GM Design perhaps the most critical force within the company's product development system. And recent offerings, like the Chevrolet Equinox, the Cadillac SRX and the Chevy Camaro, show what can happen as a result.

The promise Chuck Jordan brought with him to the Tech Center never materialized. But the organization he ran is once again showing itself a force to be reckoned with.

link:

http://www.autoblog.com/2010/12/16/farewell-chuck-jordan/

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Ex-GM exec designed icons such as Eldorado

By DENNIS MCCLELLAN

LOS ANGELES TIMES

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LOS ANGELES -- Charles M. Jordan, a former General Motors vice president of design whose early successes as a chief designer included the 1959 Cadillac Eldorado, a space-age icon with enormous tail fins, has died. He was 83.

He died of lymphoma at his home in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., on Dec. 9, said his wife, Sally.

In his 43-year career at GM, Jordan was involved in designing vehicles such as the 1958 Chevy Corvette and the 1968 Opel GT. In 1986, he became the fourth man in GM history to be named vice president of design.

When he retired as design chief in 1992, one staffer reportedly called Jordan "the last of the great design dinosaurs."

"He was a strong creative force at GM design, and a passionate leader," Ed Welburn, the vice president of global design, said in a statement.

"It always felt as if every new project he was leading represented a new mountain to climb and was a fresh opportunity to create new trends and statements in automotive design," Welburn said.

A native of Whittier, Calif., Jordan graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and began his GM career in 1949 as a junior engineer.

In the 1950s, he moved to the advanced design studio, where he designed dream cars for GM's Motorama concept showcase that included the 1955 Cameo truck and the 1956 Buick Centurian. He was instrumental in the design of the XP-700 Phantom Corvette concept.

In 1957, at 30, he assumed the prestigious position of chief designer for Cadillac.

Jordan said in a 1996 interview that contemporary vehicles lacked the personality of cars in the 1950s.

"People back then were more conscious of cars," he said. "With the new generation, their cars are not as passionate. ... People want minivans. They are driving a lot of trucks. In those days, people were expecting some fabulous cars."

Jordan once likened the 1959 Cadillac Eldorado's enormous pointed fins to "letting a tiger out of a cage -- saying 'Go!'

"The original Cadillac fin was higher than the roof of the car on the coupe," he recalled. "But even before the '59 hit the street, we had already completed the '60 design where we cut the fins off. That tells you we recognized that we probably overcooked it."

In 1962, Jordan was named executive in charge of automotive design and Life magazine named him one of the nation's 100 most important young men and women.

His positions included a 1967-70 stint as design director for GM's Opel subsidiary in Germany. In 1977, he was named director of design for the entire GM design staff.

"For some, he will be remembered best for cars early in his career, most notably the '59 Cadillac," AutoWeek writer Wes Raynal wrote in 1992, when Jordan retired. "To others, successes like the Pontiac Bonneville and Cadillac Seville. To his critics, the poor-selling Chevrolet Caprice and APV minivans."

Read more: Ex-GM exec designed icons such as Eldorado | freep.com | Detroit Free Press http://www.freep.com/article/20101219/NEWS08/12190632/Ex-GM-exec-designed-icons-such-as-Eldorado#ixzz18fKL2ZDv

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