Peter Stevens on Working with Former GM Design VP Chuck Jordan

When we took a model of the show car to the wind tunnel it showed similar characteristics to a Cesna; lift was so great that it could have flown! After many hours in the wind tunnel we achieved a reasonable aero performance for a car that would potentially reach 200mph (320km/h). Since the project was under the budget of GM Engineering, who had a very strained relationship with Styling, we were probably used as a bit of a political ‘cattle prod’, which certainly did not help ease the tension between Jordan and myself.

This all became a bit too personal when we took the Lotus Omega show car to Geneva in 1989 and the day before the show opened I arrived in jeans and bright red Converse All Star sneakers. Dear Chuck described me to the press as ‘A bum who wore sneakers to an auto show’. Nevertheless, the technology demonstrator was finished and was a spectacular automobile, painted in metallic blue and now called CERV-3 it did all that was expected of it. Alongside the blue car GM Styling built a red, running version of Corvette Indy that was close in appearance to the original silver concept but larger in almost all dimensions so that the doors could be closed.

A bit like me, Chuck Jordan was en exceptionally competitive man who hated to lose. I understood that, but since he was not my boss and I enjoyed the competition, it was all good fun to me. People at Lotus said that once I had left they got on fine with GM Styling, but since there were no more competitive design opportunities that is not too surprising.

But the thing was, I really liked Chuck Jordan, we had some great informal dinners together, wine and regular petrol head conversation, and when we met again at the ‘EyesOn Design’ judging event at the Detroit auto show in 2007 we got on really well. We had a great time, I gave him a little sketch of a pair of red Converse All Star sneakers with the caption ‘Even bums can be good friends’ and he roared with laughter. He said I was the most argumentative designer he had ever met and that kept him on his toes. I was able to tell him that his constant drive for perfecting the details was a great lesson that I had learned from him, and that always working at the design was the most important aspect of our business. We met just one time more and then he was gone in 2010. He was a highly influential guy.

This article originally appeared on Peter Stevens’ Facebook page and was republished with permission. Visit his website here.


Founded in 2012, Form Trends tirelessly covers the automotive design industry in all corners of the globe to bring you exclusive content about cars, design, and the people behind the products.