Wayne K. Cherry
Wayne K Cherry was elected GM vice president of Design in 1992. Over the course of his 42 year career with GM, W. K. Cherry set the standard with a long list of bold, innovative automotive, truck, and cross-over designs and received well-deserved credit for leading GM Design—and especially Cadillac—into its current renaissance.
In his teens, Cherry modified a '55 Chevy D-Gas for drag racing, winning many trophies. A portfolio of car sketches helped him gain admission to the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, where he earned a scholarship that led to a bachelor's degree in Industrial and Transportation Design.
After graduation, in 1962 Cherry joined GM's advanced design studios teams that worked on the 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado and the first Chevrolet Camaro.
Wayne Cherry's passion for sports car racing began during his college years in California but while in Michigan, he began to race sports cars at Waterford Hills.
In 1965 Cherry transferred to GM subsidiary Vauxhall Motors in Luton, England, for a "temporary" assignment that lasted 26 years. One of his first assignments was leading the design of a new sports car, the XVR for the 1966 Geneva motor show. Later his work included the highly acclaimed SRV, and Equus concept models. In 1975, Cherry was appointed Design Director at Vauxhall/Bedford.
Cherry established a distinct new brand identity for the British marque, with a number of aero-concepts on production vehicles, including Silver Bullet, Black Magic, and Silver Aero. The "droop snoot" look was applied to the rest of the Vauxhall product line and remains popular today with enthusiast clubs.
Vauxhall (UK) and Opel (Germany) design activities were merged in 1983, when Cherry was named Opel Design Director, and given overall design responsibility for all GM passenger cars in Europe. Cherry designed the Opel Junior concept, and the 1993 Corsa which received 20 international design awards and became a world car sold in 80 countries. His team helped to bring GM Europe into first place in sales, with a number of notable vehicles including two new sporty models – the Calibra coupe and Tigra.
In 1992, a year after returning to the USA, Cherry became VP of Design, and reorganized Design Staff, replacing 27 exterior, interior, and advanced studios with eight brand character centers and the first of four large production-studio complexes.
Cherry also established GM's Corporate Brand Center, an advanced digital studio and two virtual reality centers, and increased GM's advanced design emphasis by setting up advanced studios in Los Angeles; Coventry, England; and Warren, Michigan.
Also, Cherry strategically assembled a diverse and globally experienced leadership team which was responsible for a number of new design directions and brand identities. Cherry's greatest achievement may have been the bold new vision, identity and design for the renaissance of Cadillac.
"Cadillac's bold, angular design direction initially was seen as risky, but has proven to be highly successful and exactly what Cadillac needed to re-establish itself as a leader among the world's luxury marques," said Bob Lutz, GM vice chairman of product development and chairman of GM North America. "Wayne Cherry's dramatic designs deserve much of the credit for bringing Cadillac back to prominence."
From 1999 to 2004, GM unveiled more than 40 concept cars and trucks around the globe - more than any other automaker in such a brief period - including the hit Pontiac Solstice roadster and coupe in 2002, and the breathtaking Cadillac Sixteen, which was the most talked-about and praised concept on the international auto show circuit.
"The Sixteen is a fitting crown to Wayne's career: Bold and dramatic, yet graceful and beautiful," Lutz said. "It used the language of design to make a strong statement that Cadillac…is back."
Wayne Cherry retired from General Motors on January 1, 2004.