A graduate in automotive design from London's Royal College of Art, Peter Horbury joined Chrysler UK in 1974, where he worked on the Horizon and Alpine. He then moved to Ford to join the Sierra design team. Next, Horbury became a design consultant to Volvo. He then set up a design division at MGA, the Coventry, England-based engineering and prototype company. Ten years ago, after becoming design director at Volvo, Horbury began changing the Swedish automaker's styling identity. The challenge, he said, 'is to make efficient cars that are also beautiful.' Horbury doesn't work weekends or on board planes - he's afraid someone might steal his ideas.
Vice president and chief designer, Volvo Car Corp.
Design director at MGA Developments Ltd. in Coventry, England.
Married, two sons.
Countries lived in:
UK, the Netherlands, Sweden.
What cars are parked in your garage?
Volvo S80 T6 and a C70 convertible.
What cars have you most admired?
The Jaguar E-type, the Citroen DS and the McLaren F1.
What is your greatest achievement to date?
The transformation of the vehicle design identity of Volvo since 1991.
How do you relax?
What is your favorite food?
What do you cook?
Mainly inventions of
my own. Cooking is a creative alternative to car design.
Do you have a favorite restaurant?
Geoffrey's in Malibu [California] and Sjomagasinet in Gothenburg, both serving mainly seafood.
What do you do on planes?
I don't work on planes because someone might look over your shoulder and see your new ideas. So I listen to music instead.
Do you like movies?
Yes, historical movies such as Gladiator. I don't like movies that feature car chases - with the exception of Bullit, a classic.
What are your hobbies?
I used to play rugby. Now
I like to go for long walks. I also have a mountain bike that was a 50th [birthday] present from my staff.
Where is your favorite place for a holiday?
Australia, because of the relaxed atmosphere.
Is there anything that you dislike about yourself?
I can't face paperwork. I always want to get on with the big thing.
Is there anything that you dislike about your job?
The memo system because of the information overload.
Who do you admire within the auto business?
A lot of designers, but particularly Tom Gale, formerly of Chrysler, because he brought design to the forefront in a big company.
What companies do you admire outside the auto business?
Nokia, for its good designs. And Ikea, for maintaining proud Swedishness throughout the world.
How would you describe yourself to others?
I always take the opportunity to have a good laugh.
What are you good at?
As a design director, achieving an overall vision through the efforts of a collection of individuals. It's the skill of managing individual talents. If you tell designers what to do, they will give up or lose inspiration.
Where do you get the best ideas?
Actually from group discussions, developing and bouncing around ideas.
Do you work weekends?
What is the next big thing in the auto business?
Small, individual means of transportation. Which means there are an awful lot of things to be done.