George Gallion was a designer at General Motors in Detroit when he accepted the head design position at Opel in Rüsselsheim, Germany, in 1966. For decades, he was responsible for the appearance of new vehicle models at Opel, including the legendary Manta. Gallion recently paid a visit to BASF to talk with BASF color designer Mark Gutjahr about the significance of colors in automotive design and what lies ahead. Here is an excerpt from their discussion.
MG: You once said, “When designers dream about their work, then they dream about the future of the automobile.” Can you expand on that?
GG: Being a designer was my dream job. If you want to be a good car designer, you have to love cars, but you also have to have visions without losing sight of feasibility.
MG: Back in 1969, you designed the Opel Manta. What was the most challenging part of designing this car?
GG: We wanted to create a product to compete with the Ford Capri that was launched in the late 1960s, and we wanted to do it as quickly as possible. The Manta entered the market at nearly record speed. The fact that it achieved a certain cult status makes me very proud. I was inspired by many things when designing it—fashion and trade shows, of course.
MG: What significance did color have for you as a car designer?
GG: It was highly significant. A car is like a sculpture; it lives from color. The finish lends the car its character, and you can work with gloss and effects superbly.
MG: Speaking of colorful, the Opel CD concept car radiated a gloss effect in its Candy Apple Red shade. It was considered to be most beautiful Opel of all time and was the star of the IAA in Frankfurt in 1969. Using special classic car paints from BASF’s Glasurit brand, it was recently restored ...
GG: ... and is dazzling in its former gloss. The car is currently on display at BASF’s Münster site, and when I see it here, I am filled with pride and nostalgia.
MG: Whether classic cars or new cars, will color continue to regain its importance?
GG: I think it will. For instance, look at the Opel Corsa Color Line Edition. It’s the brilliant colors that make many customers interested. n
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