Charles “Chuck” Jordan, the designer that many said helped to usher in the modern era of car styling at General Motors, died on Thursday, December 9th. He was 83 years old. Jordan was the fourth man to hold the role of GM Vice President of Design and was in that position from October 1986 until his retirement in 1992. During his tenure at GM, Chuck was responsible for the design of the 1958 Corvette as well as several Corvette Concept cars.
Jordan joined General Motors in 1949 and in the 1950’s made his mark working in the advanced design studio where he was charged with designing several of the Motorama concept cars. In 1957 he was appointed Cadillac’s chief designer where he and his team took the Cadillac Eldorado’s tail fins to new heights. From 1967 to 1970, Jordan was design director for Opel AG in Germany. His tenure there included designs for the Manta coupe and the 1968 Opel GT sports car.
In the early 70’s Jordan returned to the United States where GM put him in charge of exteriors for Oldsmobile, Buick and Cadillac. In 1986 Jordan was named Vice President of Design. His motto during this time was “no dull cars” and his team responsible for the 1990’s generation of Camaros and Firebrids, the Oldsmobile Aurora and the 1992 Cadillac STS.
Jordan was instrumental in the design of the 1958 Corvette as well as Bill Mitchell’s XP-700 Corvette concept. During his tenure as VP of Design, Jordan oversaw the production of the Sting Ray III Corvette Concept.
GM’s Vice President of Global Design Ed Welburn holds the job once held by Chuck Jordan. He released this statement on Friday:
Chuck Jordan was the person who hired me as an intern in 1971 while he was working for Bill Mitchell, and I will always be appreciative of the opportunity he gave me to join GM’s Design Organization. Chuck was always involved in the hiring of talented, young designers, and he took great interest in their growth and development.
He was a strong creative force at GM Design, and a passionate leader. It always felt as if every new project he was leading represented a new mountain to climb, and was a fresh opportunity to create new trends and statements in automotive design. He had the charisma and passion of few others in the industry.
Most people associate Chuck Jordan with very tailored and crisp designs of Cadillac and Corvette automobiles, but Chuck also had a passion for truck design and created some of GM’s most significant concept and production trucks of the 1950s.
More recently, I’m glad that Chuck had an opportunity to visit GM Design just this past summer while he was back in the Detroit area for the Meadow Brook Concours d’Elegance. He spent hours touring our Design Center in Warren and talking with our design staff. It was a wonderful to have him back in the place in which he helped create such a rich legacy.