As exterior design manager for the Corvette Stingray and the sixth-generation Camaro, Ken Bennion has had the job of styling some of General Motors' most iconic cars.
Kirk Bennion still has his first car, a 1970½ Chevrolet Camaro Z28, in his garage.
Thousands of other garages now contain Camaros and Corvettes he designed. And he knows many will stay there for a long time as well.
As exterior design manager for the Corvette Stingray and the sixth-generation Camaro, Bennion has styled some of General Motors’ most iconic cars.
“You want to improve the breed of the car and integrate the latest technology,” he said. “You also want to give the car kind of a timeless look and not get too trendy, knowing people are going to coddle these cars and own them for a long time.”
Bennion, now 56, joined Chevrolet’s performance car studio in 1984. At the time, there was friction between the veteran designers who resented GM’s newly built wind tunnel and new hires such as Bennion who embraced the opportunity to incorporate better aerodynamics into vehicles’ styling.
His first Camaro design was the 1993 Z28. He has done a number of Corvettes, including the 2005 coupe and convertible, 2006 Z06, 2012 centennial edition and 2013 60th-anniversary edition. Bennion also had a five-year stint in amateur road racing and has taught more than 20 driving schools at the National Corvette Museum.
But his career at GM hasn’t been all about fast cars. He also spent nine years working on trucks, including Chevy’s S-series pickups, Tahoe, TrailBlazer and even full-size vans.
“They’re just as active in the wind tunnel as performance cars,” he said. “There’s a lot to get your hands around — a lot of work to be done. They’re kind of the other side of performance: off-road performance vs. on-road.”
When young designers ask him how they, too, can get to design a Corvette, “I say, ‘Next time you’re at the airport and see the 15-passenger van, I was responsible for that,’” Bennion said. “I try to tell them that’s the bread-and-butter work that you have to do as part of the team.”