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Alex Sarantos Tremulis
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Tremulis, Alex Sarantos

Carroll Gantz
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Alex Sarantos Tremulis

U.S. automobile designer who was born in Chicago, Ill., and as a youngster, loved toy cars, planes and rocket ships, though he failed art class at Roosevelt High school! In 1933, he started his career as a stylist for the Chicago sales office of Duesenberg, of the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg car company. He soon worked in Auburn, Ind., under Gordon Buehrig who designed the classic 1936 Cord 810. After Buehrig left Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg in 1936, Tremulis became its chief stylist and in 1937 designed the supercharged Cord 812 with external exhausts. But the company folded later that year. Alex then went with General Motors briefly, and then with Briggs Manufacturing Company, the chief body supplier for Ford, Chrysler, Packard & others. In 1938, he joined Custom Motors in Beverly Hills, Calif., to create custom Cadillacs for movie stars. He consulted with Crosley and American Bantam in 1939 and returned to Briggs to work on the Packard "Clipper" with Werner Gubitz and "Dutch" Darrin, and was the creative source for the Chrysler "Thunderbolt" concept car, both setting automotive style trends in 1940 that would influence postwar designs. As World War II began, he entered the Air Force in 1941, where he worked on advanced aircraft concepts for the Aircraft Lab at Wright Field, and produced exciting renderings that sold many huge aircraft contracts. There he developed a concept that in the 1970s became known as the Boeing "Dyna-Soar", a gliding re-entry space vehicle that presaged the space shuttle concept. After the war, Tremulis worked with the Chicago industrial design firm of Tammen and Denison that was engaged by Preston Tucker. In 1946, Tucker hired him as chief stylist for the famed 1948 Tucker "Tin Goose", and he developed a basic concept and clay model. Though Tucker hired a team from Lippincott & Margulies to do a second concept model, which contributed key features, their design was guided by Tremulis's original body concept parameters. After 51 cars were produced, Tucker was indicted by the SEC on charges of fraud, and production was halted. In 1948, Tremulis went with the Kaiser-Frazer car company, to develop new design concepts, but the company soon failed. In 1952, he joined Ford International and headed their Advanced Design group for 12 years. He left Ford in 1963 and founded his own consulting firm in Ann Arbor, Mich., where he worked for a range of clients, including Gyro Transport Systems, to create a gyro-stabilized motorcycle that set a land-speed record of 245.667 mph. In 1968, he relocated his firm to Ventura, Calif., with clients that included Subaru, designing their X-100 and "Brat." In 1982, he was inducted into the Automobile Hall of Fame, and in 1987, he was honored by the Society of Automotive Engineers for the design of the Tucker, as one of the "significant automobiles of the past half century." He also served as a consultant for the 1988 movie, Tucker: A Man and His Dream.

100 Years of Design consists of excerpts from a book by Carroll M. Gantz, FIDSA, entitled, Design Chronicles: Significant Mass-produced Designs of the 20th Century, published August 2005 by Schiffer Publications, Ltd.
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