Forward Look

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Virgil Exner

Virgil Exner is widely known for introducing and launching the “Forward Look” at Chrysler. He was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and showed early on a strong interest in art and automobiles. Exner began his automotive career drawing advertisements for Studebaker trucks. He advanced quickly, and in 1934 Harley Earl hand-picked him to join his design team at General Motors. Before age 30, Exner had been put in charge of Pontiac styling. In 1938 he parted ways with General Motors and went to work for Raymond Loewy’s industrial design firm, where he was put to work on the Studebaker, helping advance their revolutionary post-war cars. Exner went on to work directly for Studebaker as their Chief of Styling before he in 1949 left the position to work for Chrysler in their Advanced Styling Group. Exner worked his way up in the system and was in 1957 elected the first Vice President of Styling at Chrysler. He is best known for his clean “Forward Look” and spectacular fins, but Exner is also a pioneer when it comes to asymmetrical automotive design.


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