One of the most globally influential car designers of the 20th century was the late Anatole “Tony” Lapine.
His impressive resume includes the 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray and the Porsche 928, both of which are now icons of automotive design.
Tony was born in Riga, Germany, in 1930. His first job was as an apprentice at Mercedes Benz.
In 1952 General Motors (GM) enticed him to the USA to work in its advanced body engineering department.
GM design supremo, Bill Mitchell, then asked him to work in his super secret “X” styling studio. It was in Studio X that the Corvettes and GM’s other experimental sports cars were created.
The studio was off limits top almost everyone in GM and it was a coveted assignment that marked Lapine as “someone with talent”.
Working with Larry Shinoda and the godfather of the Corvette, Zora Arkus-Duntov, Tony helped develop the 1960 Chevrolet CERV1 race car, 1961 Mako Shark, 1962 Corvair Monza GT, 1963 Corvair Monza SS, and the 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.
Lapine also raced cars and shared wheel-time with Dr Dick Thompson, an American race car driver who won multiple championships with Sports Car Club of America.
In 1965 GM moved Lapine back to Germany to manage Opel’s research centre.
Four years later Porsche offered him the job as its design boss and he accepted, retiring from the role 20 years later.
His legacy at Porsche includes the front engine 928, 944 and 924 models. These cars allowed Porche to break away from its rear engine design template and laid the foundation for the Porsche range you see today and its customer appeal.
David Burrell is the editor of retroautos.com.au
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