Photo by (AP Photo/DaimlerChrysler, ho)
General Motors Corp. said Monday, April 23, 2001, it has lured the designer of Chrysler's popular PT Cruiser to head up its Chevrolet design studio. Bryan Nesbitt, 32, shown in this undated handout photo, next to a 2001 model, resigned last week as design manager at DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler unit, where during seven years there he was the leading exterior designer of the 2001 PT Cruiser. Nesbitt, who begins his GM job May 7, will run GM's Chevrolet design studio, taking in shaping the look ofthe brand's concept vehicles.
Hottest Designer

Bryan Nesbitt's work on the design of the popular Daimler-Chrysler P/T Cruiser has put him in the driver's seat at the design studio of General Motor's Chevrolet division. Nesbitt, Cls 92, joined GM May 9, and is in charge of rejuvenating styling at Chevrolet. While Chevy's latest concept vehicles have been generally well received, its recent production car designs have barely made a ripple in automotive circles. Nesbitt reports to Anne Asensio who was the third-ranking designer at French automaker Renault when GM lured her last May to direct the design of GM's domestic brands. Nesbitt, 31, joins a group of "brand character chief designers" who lead the styling direction of each GM division. None is older than 36.

"Bryan is the hottest designer in the United States right now," GM spokesman Scott Fosgard said. "If we were putting together the '27 New York Yankees, getting Bryan is like acquiring the cleanup hitter for Murderers Row."

Nesbitt said he has wanted to be an automobile designer since he was a child in Phoenix.

His father recognized his talents at age 12 and took him to the campus of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif.

After graduating from high school, Nesbitt studied architecture and industrial design at Georgia Tech in 1988-89, but he returned to the Art Center College and graduated in 1993 with a bachelorís in industrial design. After serving an internship at Daimler-Chryslerís Pacifica Advanced Product Design Center in Carlsbad, Calif., he was hired by Chrysler in 1994.

"What I really liked at Georgia Tech was the emphasis on academics," Nesbitt said. "The Art Center was more of a trade school in the sense that it was very curriculum specific for particular careers. Tech gave me a broader understanding of the university system and how it can develop you academically and socially. I took a lot of architecture classes and that was a great foundation. The history of architecture is so profound and mechanical inventions like the automobile have such a short history by comparison. Techís architecture program was a big influence on me."

When Nesbitt unveiled his first prototype car at the 1997 Frankfort Auto Show, the P/T cruiser was already on his mind.

"That was a third-world vehicle called the Chrysler Composite Concept Vehicle." he explained. "It was a tall, four-door hatchback and that was the first real inkling of the P/T Cruiser."

Nesbitt — then a 27-year-old untested designer — began working on the popular retro-cruiser shortly after the Frankfurt show. Just as the original Volkswagen Beetle did a generation ago, the P/T Cruiser turned design heads. Nesbitt thought people would like the car, but even he was astounded when people began paying more than list price or camping on waiting lists for the opportunity to own one. One enthusiast even started an Internet-based fan club before the car hit the lots.

As the popularity of the Cruiser increased, so did Nesbittís stock in the world of automotive design and on April 23, General Motors hired him to head styling for the Chevrolet division.

Nesbitt is grateful to Daimler-Chrysler for the opportunities it afforded him to flex his design muscles. "I have a lot of equity with Chrysler," he said. "I was very happy where I was but this is an opportunity to work for one of the biggest brands in the world. Iíll be in the advanced studio, which is trying to define what the brand is really aspiring to be. My job will be to visually define that aspiration. You know, Chevrolet used to be the best brand in the world back in 1978 when they were selling a million Caprices a year. Now, that has been swallowed up by the Japanese and all the loyalty has shifted away from the domestics. Those present huge opportunities and thatís what Iím excited about."

GM design chief Wayne Cherry said GM would love to score a hit on the scale of the P/T Cruiser. "Obviously, a vehicle that generates a lot of excitement in the marketplace would be very welcome."

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