'59 Chevy Impala

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So what Larry was really good at was seeing ways to make things, to make a design work in reality. There’s a lot of designs that you can do that look great, but you can’t build them or you can't build them in a cost effective manner.

But for instance, one story comes to mind that he told me about was the difference between the 1958 Chevy Impala and the 1959. Big difference, the ’58 was more rounded, more bulbous looking and the ’59 was very, you many not like the design, but it was very sharp. There was a lot of sharp turns in it, big fins. And those kinds of things, that’s where all the design went in that time period. It changed dramatically.

But Larry figured out a way to make the, without having to do special dyes that were very expensive to manufacture, he figured out a way to put two pieces of metal together in a very sharp point. And then what he brought to the party was chrome on it or put something there that would hide the two pieces of metal coming together. So you wouldn’t know that, it just looked like it was correct, it looked like it was made that way. But he hid it by using the chrome trim. So it was very smart, you know, he was very pragmatic, a very practical designer.

And I think that’s why he had a good rapport with engineering too because the engineers loved him too. It wasn’t just,you know, the styling people. So that was kind of a unique thing I think. Usually, styling people just go off in their own world and then the engineers have to make the design work and sometimes those are the compromises that you have to face. Larry worked with them or worked with them in mind too to make things more doable.

Date: September 14, 2011
Location: California, US
Interviewer: Akira Boch
Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum

automobile Chevy design Impala Larry Shinoda

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