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Dec 29 2009

Camaro Designer Departs for Volkswagen

Posted by volkszone

Sangyup Lee, the General Motors designer credited with the exterior design of the new Chevrolet Camaro, has left the company to join Volkswagen’s Southern California studio writes the New York Times.

The joint Audi-VW advanced studio, now in Santa Monica, is famed as the birthplace of the Volkswagen New Beetle and Audi TT concepts. Its longtime head, Derek Jenkins, left to join Mazda earlier this year. Now his successor, the studio’s executive design director Jens Manske, has hired Mr. Lee as chief exterior designer.

2010 Chevrolet Camaro designers
Sangyup Lee, right, exterior design manager for the 2010 Camaro, visited The Times last March with Micah Jones and Rebecca Waldmeir of the G.M. design staff.

Mr. Lee, who grew up in Korea, spent nearly a decade at G.M. He was employed for a time at Porsche before joining G.M., where he also worked on the 2004 Buick Velite show car and the Corvette Stingray Concept.

Mr. Lee studied sculpture and earned a bachelor’s degree in fine art at Hongik University in Seoul before turning to auto design at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., from which he graduated in 1999.

Mr. Lee was working in the Corvette design studio of Tom Peters when Mr. Peters was asked by G.M.’s design chief, Ed Welburn, to quickly develop proposals for a new Camaro as part of an internal competition. Mr. Lee said that his low-roof, angular sketches were inspired more by comic book and automobile magazine images than by any vehicles he had seen growing up in Seoul — and were less overtly “retro” than some of the other proposals.

“Korea has no muscle car tradition,” he said in an interview.

Mr. Lee was also put in charge of seeing the design through to production, working with engineers at Holden, the General Motors arm in Australia, where the car was being developed. He recalled that every fraction of an inch of hood and roof height was an occasion for battles with the engineers.


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