Most people have never heard of Larry Shinoda. But just about everyone who lusted after the muscle cars of the 60’s knows his work well. You see, Larry Shinoda was the guy who led the team that designed the 1963 Corvette, one of the most spectacular cars of all time.
But wait, there’s more.
After working at GM, Larry moved to Ford where he was involved in creating the Mustang Boss 302 and the Torino Talledega. Think about that: One man who touched two of the greatest cars of the muscle era.
Pretty impressive for a kid who spent part of World War II in a Japanese American internment camp.
Larry grew up in Southern California. while his family was involved in agriculture, Larry liked art… and cars. After spending part of the second world war in the Manzanar relocation camp, Larry went back to find drag racing in So Cal. After a tour in Korea, he studied at the Art Centre School of Design in Los Angeles. He later said that he was kicked out because he was a malcontent. He wanted more.
Eventually he was brought to Detroit by Ford, although that only lasted a year. After an even shorter stint at Packard/Studebaker he landed at GM. He was at the right place at the right time. Working with Bill Mitchell gave him the chance to prove that the malcontent had vision. The second and third generation of Corvettes gave Larry a chance to shine.
At the peak of his game, he followed Bunkie Knudsen to Ford. He was only there a brief time, but it was enough to work on the Boss 302.
He also created a two seater called the Mach 2 designed to compete against the Corvette. It never made production, losing out to the Pantera. Larry later went on to start his own design and consulting company. He died in 1997.
So the next time a 60’s Corvette drives by on the highway, forget the horsepower and the performance. Take a moment to marvel at its shape and to remember Larry Shinoda.
You can read more about Larry’s life and work here.