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Charles M. “Chuck” Jordan, retired General Motors Vice President of Design, has died at age 83.
A California native, Chuck Jordan won the Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild model car competition, and was awarded a four-year scholarship to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he earned a degree in mechanical engineering. He soon joined the GM Styling Staff as a junior engineer. In the 1950s, Chuck designed a number of GM Motorama cars, including the 1955 Cameo truck and 1956 Buick Centurion.
At the tender age of 30, he was appointed Cadillac’s chief designer, and his team was responsible for the era’s most famous tailfins in 1959.
From 1967 through 1970, Chuck was design director for Adam Opel AG in Rüsselsheim, Germany, where he created the beloved Manta and the “Mini Vette,” the Opel GT. Upon returning to the U.S., he became the executive in charge of the Buick, Oldsmobile and Cadillac group, followed by Chevrolet, Pontiac and commercial vehicles. He was the director of the entire design staff, starting in 1977, and when Irv Rybicki retired in 1986, he became General Motors’ fourth-ever Vice President of Design, a post he held until he retired at age 65 in 1992. Under Chuck’s watch, handsome cars like the 1992 Cadillac Seville, the Buick Reatta, the Oldsmobile Aurora and the fourth-generation F-body Camaro and Firebird were designed.
After retiring, Chuck taught auto design to art students at the Valhalla high school in El Cajon, California. He was honored this past summer with a special display of his Motorama show cars at the Concours d’Elegance of America, formerly Meadow Brook.