Thursday, March 27, 2008

Milestone: Former Chrysler Design Boss John Herlitz Dies

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — John Herlitz, 65, the longtime Chrysler designer who is credited with such landmark vehicles as the redesign of the 1970 Plymouth Barracuda, has died, the automaker announced on Wednesday. The death was also announced by Winnebago Industries, for which Herlitz served as a board member.

John Herlitz was the chief designer behind classics like the 1970 Plymouth Barracuda (top) and is pictured (above) with the famous Plymouth Road Runner, also his (Photo courtesy of Chrysler/Forward Magazine)
Herlitz died this week at age 65. (Photo courtesy of Winnebago Industries)
The cause of death was not announced.

"His work included the redesign of the legendary 1970 Plymouth Barracuda, 1971 Plymouth Road Runner [and] numerous concept cars, and he helped to create the Walter P. Chrysler Museum," Chrysler said in a statement.

Herlitz was a retired senior vice president for design at DaimlerChrysler. He began his career at Chrysler Corporation in 1968 after graduating from Pratt Institute, as a manager of the Plymouth Intermediate Car Studio. When he retired from the automaker in 2000, Tom Gale, Chrysler's executive vice president for product development, said, "John's design signature has been seen on Chrysler-branded vehicles from 1964."

Among the more memorable concepts that he helped to shepherd was the Dodge Copperhead, which debuted at the 1997 North American International Auto Show. At the time, Herlitz said, "If Dodge Viper is credited for reinventing the Shelby Cobra, then Dodge Copperhead should be credited for reinventing a car in the tradition of the Austin-Healey 3000." The Copperhead was lauded for its looks and inexpensive $30,000 price tag.

Chrysler said Herlitz had "a heartfelt passion for the automotive industry."

What this means to you: The passing of another Motor City great. — Anita Lienert, Correspondent

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