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Wayne Cherry

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Wayne Cherry

Wayne K Cherry (b. 1937) is a noted American-born car designer is responsible for nearly all of General Motors' European designs since the 1970s, and GM's worldwide designs since the early 1990s. In an age of high profile 'designer' names in the car industry, Cherry is hardly a household name, yet his designs spanning five decades easily count among the most influential in the industry.

Cherry joined GM in 1962, initially working at GM in the US as an Associate Creative Designer. At this time, as a young designer, he was a member of the teams that designed the original Chevrolet Camaro/Pontiac Firebird twins, and the Oldsmobile Toronado, both considered to be modern classics. He was a contemporary colleague of John De Lorean, whose idea it was to do the Pontiac GTO at this time, also considered a modern classic. In 1965, he transferred to Vauxhall Motors in the UK, GM's UK operations.

The design direction was already set for the Viva, Victor and others. However, Cherry's influence was immediate, introducing bold American styling cues to Vauxhall's passenger car range, with the 1966 Vauxhall XVR concept vehicle which was shown at Geneva.

However, it was the 1970 concept car, the Vauxhall SRV, that really got his designs noticed, creating a sleek shape years ahead of its time, and forerunner of the much later Lamborghini Countach than anything the public would have expected from Vauxhall. Cherry became Assistant Director of Design for Vauxhall in 1971, when Bedford Trucks also fell under his aegis. Cherry went on to inject some much-needed boldness into the dowdy Viva range with the dramatically styled 1973 Vauxhall Firenza "droopsnoot", a car which took aerodynamics seriously for the first time in a mass-market British-built car, and one which would set the tone for much of GM's styling direction in Europe for the next two decades. Appointed Director of Design in 1975, Cherry's influence was extensive, with all new developments from Vauxhall featuring the aerodynamic "droopsnoot" - the Chevette, Cavalier and Carlton all receiving the Cherry treatment. While the engineering of these cars was largely carried out by Opel in Germany, the Opel versions at this time tended to feature much more conservative styling than their British counterparts. Cherry's 1978 concept design, the Vauxhall Equus, established him as a stylist equal to those at Bertone and Pininfarina, though the cross-Atlantic influence was ever-present.

In 1983, Cherry became Director of Design at the Vauxhall/Opel Technical Development Centre at Rüsselsheim in Germany, as part of the consolidation of operations between the two arms of the company. He reorganised the structure of GM's European styling teams, such that all models produced from then on were common Vauxhall/Opel designs. Under his directorship, cars such as the Astra, Corsa, Calibra and Tigra were designed, among many others.

Cherry returned to GM's US Chevrolet operations in 1991, though his work in Europe continued in parallel. His designs at this time included models for Chevrolet, Geo, Saturn and others. In 1992 Cherry became vice president of design for GM worldwide, the fifth head of design in GM's history. His responsibility covered all of GM's North American brands - Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chevrolet Truck, GMC, Hummer, Pontiac and Saturn. His work in Europe clearly influenced new GM designs, which started to become much more "European" in flavour than earlier US-designed vehicles. Bold designs such as the Pontiac Solstice, Cadillac Sixteen and so forth were all produced under Cherry's directorship. Also the new Cadillac vision, the H2 Hummer, the Chevy SSR, as well as over 100 concept vehicles which were developed.

Cherry retired in 2004.