The Designs

The Designer

Fresh out of high school; in his first year at Stanford University, where he’d gone to study engineering, Brock heard about a school in Los Angeles where amazingly enough, you could learn to be an automotive designer! Actually his first priority at the time was being a professional racer, but with the usual family resistance and the requirement that entrants be 21 years of age at that time, he figured engineering might be a good second choice. During Spring break, he drove straight from San Francisco to Los Angeles, parked his car in the back lot of the Art Center School and unofficially wandered through the hallways, poking his head into classrooms and chatting with students. Within an hour Brock was certain; THIS was the place he needed to be!

Brock walked into the admissions office and declared he wanted to enroll and asked, “When can I start?” They asked to see his portfolio. He was so naive that he didn't even know what a ”portfolio” was and asked for an explanation. The admissions officer, obviously surprised, but very kind, explained it was a collection of one’s best work... samples you’d show to a prospective client. Client? The admissions officer patiently explained the Art Center was a school established by, and for, current professionals who attend to further their skills once they are already established in the industry. Undaunted, Brock went out to his car, dug out his school binder (the type with three rings and blue lined note paper) and went to work. A couple of hours later, with a few pages of hastily, but carefully, drawn images of hot rods (the kind most car crazy kids draw when they’re bored with class) he marched back in to the admissions office and presented his "portfolio". Amazingly enough, the admissions officer saw past the inexperience of this kid and recognized the raw talent. He was admitted.

Brock loved the school and even more its great instructors who coached and further inspired his love of automobiles and design. But school was expensive; even more than college and there would be no more help from his family. They were shocked and disappointed when he’d quit Stanford mid-semester to go south to “art school”. Due to the impending financial squeeze he found himself needing a job. Serendipitously, while in his first couple of semesters at Art Center, he’d met a GM head hunter named Chuck Jordan, who was then scouting future talent for GM’s Styling Division. He called Jordan and explained his situation. Within days he had a ticket to Detroit and at the age of 19 he was the youngest designer ever hired by GM Styling. Ironically, years later Jordan would become the VP of Design at GM.

Brock made his mark on the automotive design world early and often. Within ten years he’d penned what would become the Corvette Stingray, the World Championship Cobra Daytona Coupe, the Nethercutt Mirage, the Hino Samurai and more. Also, during this time, he found real potential in Datsun’s line of early 2000 roadsters, the 240Z and the now iconic 510s. Starting his own race team in 1965 and applying his design skills to the graphics of the cars he was building made them noticed by others in the racing industry. He’d taken some pretty mundane packages and created something that was considered pretty hip and cool. The fact that the cars were also winning didn’t hurt either!

In the following sections you will learn the fascinating details behind the designs of Peter Brock, starting with his time at GM Styling.