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Interview with Ralph Gilles, FCA head designer

Interview with Ralph Gilles, FCA head designer

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Here at Car Nation Canada, we tend to cover the things of the auto industry rather than the people. It’s what you tell us you’re most interested in and it’s what we know most about. However, sometimes it’s good to get inside the head of an important figure within our field, which is what this piece in Driving.ca has done.

It’s their work not ours so all credit to them. They got time with FCA’s head designer Ralph Gilles and asked him all sorts of questions to get an insight into the design process, his approach and his influences. It’s a great piece and well worth your time.

If you don’t have time to read it all, here are some highlights…

“Gilles shot to the upper echelons of automotive designers with the overwhelmingly successful Chrysler 300C (winner of Motor Trend‘s 2005 Car of the Year) and was dubbed “King of Bling” for the car’s daring and aggressive styling.

“He’s since held such top ranking positions as design director, vice-president of design, president and CEO of the Dodge car brand, and president and CEO of the SRT brand, helping spearhead the short-lived yet doggedly successful SRT racing program. In April of 2015,  Gilles was named Head of Design for FCA (Fiat Chrysler).”

“The car that inspired me to become an automotive designer was … the Porsche 928. I first saw it on the streets, and then again in that famous movie Risky Business.

As a designer, I love how it was ahead of its time; it was the first car with true pop-up headlights, fascias instead of bumpers, extremely aerodynamic shape, aluminum doors, flowthrough cockpit …
“I forget the name of the designer [Wolfgang Moebius], but it was really ahead of its time. It didn’t so much inspire my designing, but the “idea of designing” and how one car could look so different from another. Back then, the ’70s was a pretty tough time for car design. I had models of it, a telephone of it … I was obsessed with that car.”

“In my garage right now I have … Well, I trust the auto collection market more than I do Wall Street right now, so I went on a bit of a spree last year: I bought a Hellcat Challenger, which I love; I splurged and got a Ferrari 458, and a Viper ACR. And my other childhood favourite, a 1969 Alfa Romeo GTV  “Junior” – I’ve always lusted after it.

“I was at Design Auto Show and there was one on display and when I walked by it, I could feel my heart beating. I jokingly asked if it was for sale, and they said it was owned by a church. Technically, they said, if I bought it, I could write it off as a donation. So my wife bought it, and next thing I know, the car was in my garage.”

It’s a good interview and gives a great insight into the mind of one of FCA’s great designers. All credit to Driving.ca for their work. Good interview.

If you like the styling of the new Chrysler vehicles, visit Parkway Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Mississauga, 2260 Battleford Road, Mississauga, ON, L5N 3K6. They are even better up close!

Categories: News