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.