Fourie, an automotive historian, has written a book on the history of GM automobiles manufactured outside North America.
To the Editor:
Most reviews of the late Chuck Jordan's remarkable career as an automotive designer at General Motors have been prepared based on American sources and as such fail to recognize his pivotal role at GM's German subsidiary, Opel.
As director of design at Opel from 1967 to 1970, Jordan transformed the appearance of Opels that had previously looked like shrunken American models. In so doing, he -- along with chassis engineer Helmut Zincke and Bob Lutz, who headed marketing after Jordan returned to North America -- helped Opel shed its old man's image. This trio helped provide an all-important youth factor essential to attracting such a critical demographic group. Designs prepared during Jordan's tenure were instrumental in propelling Opel past Volkswagen to market leadership in Germany.
Jordan's talent was sufficiently diverse that he could pen American excess in the form of the tall Cadillac tail fins yet appreciate the conservative tastes of Europeans and excel at catering to their preferences.
His Opel CD concept was devoid of any trimmings, and its low waistline predicted the 1971 Opel Rekord, a design of such simple elegance that it could have worn the badge of any premium European brand. Contemporary models from BMW and Mercedes-Benz looked pedestrian in comparison to the sleek Opel that suggested an Italian designer rather than an American.
The appealing Opel Manta was another of his designs executed in a far shorter time frame than normal. The Corvette-inspired Opel GT also was finalized under Jordan's watch.
History needs to record Chuck Jordan's contribution to Opel's fortunes as well as his American achievements.