Car Art, Inc.

CHUCK JORDAN
 
GM Vice President of Design

Charles M. Jordan (1927-2010) was one of the most successful and influential automotive designers of the 20th century. 

Following in the footsteps of legendary Harley Earl and Bill Mitchell, Charles Jordan shaped some of GM’s most celebrated vehicles.  In 2012 he was posthumously inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn, Michigan.
 
Born in Whittier, California, Chuck showed an early interest in automobiles, designing and building scale model automobiles at school, one of which won an award in seventh grade.
 
He was accepted at the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and, as a sophomore in 1947, entered the Fisher Body Craftsman's Guild model car design competition. He designed a car, built a clay model of his original design and ultimately won the top national award, plus a $4,000 scholarship. At the awards ceremony, Harley Earl’s assistant, Howard O’Leary, invited Jordan to come to work at General Motors after graduation.
 
Jordan earned his mechanical engineering degree in 1949 and was hired by GM as a junior engineer in the styling department. His career was interrupted by the Korean War, in which he served as an Air Force officer at the Missile Test Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida.
 
Upon return, Chuck resumed his career at GM where his talents quickly set him apart from his peers. Aged just 26 in 1953, he was named Chief Designer of GM’s special projects studio by Harley Earl. Jordan designed a number of GM Motorama vehicles during the 1950s, including the 1955 Cameo truck and 1956 Buick Centurion. He also designed the futuristic Aerotrain. In 1957, Jordan was named Chief Designer for Cadillac, being responsible for many of the brand’s iconic finned designs.
 
LIFE magazine selected Jordan 'one of the 100 most important young men and women in the United States' in its September 1962 'takeover generation' issue.
 
In 1967 he became Design Director for Opel in Germany, where he was responsible for the designs of the Manta, Ascona, Commodore B and GT. He returned to the United States in 1970 and was put in charge of styling for Buick, Oldsmobile and Cadillac as well as commercial vehicles for Chevrolet and Pontiac. He became Director of GM Design Staff in 1977 and finally, in 1986, Chuck Jordan reached the pinnacle of his career: Vice President of Design for General Motors, a position originally held by his mentor, Harley Earl.
 
Chuck's design experience during his tenure at GM included all types of vehicles: experimental and production passenger cars, trucks, buses, trains and earth-moving equipment. Before retirement in 1992, Jordan oversaw redesigns of the Cadillac Seville, Buick Reatta, Oldsmobile Aurora, and Chevrolet Camaro/Pontiac Firebird. Jordan also led the design of the Oldsmobile Aerotech concepts.
 
His illustrious career includes many awards and accolades:
  • Life Member - California Scholastic Federation (1945)
  • Honorary Judge - Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance (1970 to present)
  • Advanced Management Program - Harvard University (1979)
  • Distinguished Service Citation - Automotive Hall of Fame (1990)
  • Honorary Doctorate - Art Center College of Design (1992)
  • Designer of the Year (1992)
  • Wally B. Ford Award - Center for Creative Studies (1992)
  • Honorary Doctorate - Center for Creative Studies (1996)
In retirement, Chuck spent time with his grandchildren, working with his Ferrari collection, promoting creativity in automobile design education around the world, and teaching an automotive design course at Valhalla High School in El Cajon, California.
 
Survived by his son, Charles Mark Jordan Jr., co-designer of the iconic 1990 Mazda MX-5.
 




DESIGNS Chuck JORDAN Gallery
1960 Cadillac Eldorado
1963 Cadillac Fleetwood Sixty Special

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