Friday, December 17, 2010

Chuck Jordan, GM innovator and designer of the 1959 Cadillac Eldorado passes away at age 83

Greatest. Car. Design. Ever.

Thank you Mr. really made it possible for hundreds of car crazy people (like me) to spend hours/days/years admiring your handy work.....

"May the road rise to meet you, and may you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows you are dead...."

Chuck Jordan, GM innovator who took tailfins to their surreal peak with his 1959 Cadillac Eldorado passes away at age 83

By Douglas Martin
December 17, 2010

NEW YORK — Chuck Jordan — a General Motors designer who dreamed up automotive confections dripping with tailfins, chrome, and postwar exuberance, then helped reshape the look of GM cars as the company grappled with foreign competition and steeper fuel costs — died Dec. 9 at his home in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. He was 83.

The cause was lymphoma, said his wife, Sally.

Alfred P. Sloan Jr., the GM patriarch, hired the first design director of a major automaker in 1927 as part of his plan to introduce new models each year. He chose the flamboyant Harley Earl, a confidant of movie stars. Mr. Jordan was the third successor to Earl as GM’s vice president of design, and his boldness echoed Earl’s. When Mr. Jordan took tailfins to their surreal peak with his 1959 Cadillac Eldorado, he said he was “letting a tiger out of the cage.’’

The products of his designs included tractors and pickup trucks, Corvettes and Opels, and he contributed to the “wide-track’’ Pontiacs, the baby boomers’ cherished muscle cars. His Aerotrain, GM’s 1950s train of the future, elicited wows from design buffs, but did not work well.

Mr. Jordan’s classic designs included the 1963 Buick Riviera, the 1967 Cadillac Eldorado, and the 1973 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. His vision was as streamlined as the jet aircraft that inspired it: longer, lower, wider, and intended to excite.

“We deal with design, an intangible and emotional subject,’’ he said in an interview with Automotive News at the time of his retirement in 1992. “There are no rules or steps to success. It’s a matter of opinion. This isn’t research or engineering with computer programs and hard data.’’

Charles Morrell Jordan was born in Whittier, Calif., and began sketching cars at 6. He went to MIT to study engineering and design, and in his sophomore year won the Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild model-car competition. The prize was a $4,000 scholarship, and a nudge to give GM a call after graduation.

He did, and Earl hired him. He stayed four decades, interrupted only by Air Force service in the early 1950s.

At 30, Mr. Jordan was named to one of GM’s most prestigious posts, chief designer for Cadillac. Five years later, in 1962, Life magazine called him one of the “100 most important young men and women in the United States.’’

Mr. Jordan, who taught auto design at a high school after retiring from GM, leaves his wife, the former Sally Irene Mericle; a son, Mark, a noted car designer; and two daughters, Debra Bryan and Melissa Hall.

© Copyright 2010 Globe Newspaper Company.

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