Attached images

Virgil Max Exner
Home | Exner, Virgil Max

Exner, Virgil Max

Carroll Gantz
Birth/Death Age: 
Virgil Max Exner

U.S. automotive designer born in Ann Arbor, Mich. Exner studied art at Notre Dame and started as an advertising artist at an agency handling the Studebaker account. He was hired by Harley Earl at General Motors in 1933 and became styling chief for Pontiac, where he designed the famous "Silver Streak" hood ornament. In 1937, he joined the office of Raymond Loewy, and in 1939 was assigned to head the Studebaker account in South Bend, Ind., Under his direction, Clare E. Hodgman designed the all new lightweight and low-priced 1939 Studebaker "Champion." In 1939, Raymond Loewy Associates began design work on the first genuine postwar car, the 1947 Studebaker "Champion," with Exner heading Loewy's team that included Robert E. Bourke and clay modeler Frank Alhroth. In 1944, Exner and Studebaker Engineering VP Roy E. Cole conspired to bypass Loewy, who found out and fired Exner, naming Bourke to replace him. Exner was promptly hired by Cole to finish the Champion job. But credit rightly went to Loewy's staff because of his contract with Studebaker. Exner returned to Detroit in 1948 to work for Chrysler, was named Director of Styling in 1953 and guided their "Forward Look," Chrysler's answer to the high tail-fin race with General Motors. Exner became VP of Chrysler in 1957 upon introduction of the line and served in that capacity until 1961.

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.
Copyright Information: 
I own or have obtained the rights to the image(s) included with this article and grant the right to post it(them) on its website and make use of it(them) in print media with proper attribution.