Chuck Jordan

Discussion in 'Who's Who in Ferrari Universe' started by bitzman, Oct 25, 2010.

  1. bitzman

    bitzman F1 Rookie

    Feb 15, 2008
    Ontario, CA
    Charles M. Jordan was a GM executive for decades and has been a Ferrari enthusiast from the Sixties. He followed in the footsteps of William L. Mitchell the flamboyant design director of GM who was following Harley Earl's style a bit. Jordan , a native of So Cal, from a wealthy orange grove owning family, was more conservative than Mitchell and never did such anything wild and crazy like Mitchell (who put, for instance, a Ferrari V12 into a Firebird, and also had his real SSK customised to be a SSKL) but Jordan did cause controversy by buying Ferraris and driving them around Detroit when at the time you were considered a tad disloyal not driving an American car. Among his Ferraris at one time or another was a Lusso (found for him by Sergio Pininfarina), a Boxer, an F40 , a yellow Daytona coupe and I am not sure which one he took into retirement down in Rancho Mirage near San Diego. His son Mark is a noted designer at Mazda, credited with the Miata design, but his collection started with a Miura. I would say that Chuck always kept tabs on Ferrari in the hopes of having some Ferrari influence on GM design but such influences were always far less than he hoped, though when Mitchell was his superior, he had a better chance. One time they almost built a Ferrari rival, a mid-engined Two Rotor Corvette with coachwork by Pininfarina but then GM axed the rotary and that car never got slated for mass production.
  2. To remove this ad click here.

  3. kaisen

    kaisen Karting

    Nov 15, 2005
    Update, deceased
  4. Jeff Kennedy

    Jeff Kennedy F1 Veteran
    Silver Subscribed Owner

    Oct 16, 2007
    Edwardsville, IL
    Full Name:
    Jeff Kennedy
    Born October 21, 1927
    Died December 9, 2010

    Chuck Jordan's career at GM was noted for how well he was thought of throughout the industry. I remember a designer at Chrysler, he left GM after getting sideways with Chuck, still talking of the respect he had for the man and his design achievements. Can't remember if it was this person or someone else that remarked how Chuck had the ability to look at a wall full of designs and see past all the fancy rendering techniques to find the best design. Now this may sound like an expected trait for all design management people; sadly not always the case.

    Some other notable GM designs that should be attributed to him are: 4-rotor Corvette (later re-engined and rename the Aerovette), Opel Manta range of the early 1970s, Opel CD showcar, Corvette Indy, Cadillac STS and the last Cadillac Eldorado.

    He had a meteoric rise through the GM design ranks after starting in 1949. At age 26 he was the head of the Special Projects studio where he created the Aerotrain. This then launched his transition to the automotive side. At age 30 he was appointed the head of the Cadillac studio when the 1959 models were being developed. Particularly notable of this appointment was that this was the path that had led to Bill Mitchell's ascension to the top levels of GM design under Harley Earl. In 1962 Jordan was elevated to be the #2 to Bill Mitchell.

    It is known that when Bunkie Knudsen went from GM to Ford to become president he tried mightily to recruit Chuck to come over to be the head of design. In the end Jordan stayed put at GM but there has been a recurring rumor that Bill Mitchell had promised Jordan that he would be Mitchell's successor. Upon Mitchell's retirement he did recommend Jordan to the board of directors as his choice. Sadly the board made a different selection and it took until 1986 for the snub to be set right with Jordan finally becoming VP of Design. Because of GM's mandatory retirement age, Chuck's tenure as VP ended in 1992.

    Chuck's passion in the Ferrari world was well known too. His first Ferrari was a Lusso. He next one was a yellow Daytona coupe. This was at one point pictured in Road & Track after some of the GM design staff had done some Superfly customizing with foam core and tape. He went through a Boxer or two, a couple of Testarossas, an F-40 and others. While in retirement he wrote glowing of his 456 as a car with the perfect combination of attributes for him.

    Chuck also built white metal 1/43rd scale models. He would take special effort to get the body forms to reflect the shape characteristics. He was a perfectionist by nature. He created an extensive collection of Ferrari literature. He was a judge at the FCA National in 1983 when the freshly restored "Lucybelle II" 250 TR was first shown. Chuck found discrepancies in minute shape details of the exhaust tip that the car's owner had expected no one to have ever noticed. True to Chuck's nature his judging sheets had copious notes on details for each car in the class.

    At one point a friend asked Chuck who or what he looked to for inspiration. He quickly responded Enzo Ferrari.

    Enzo Ferrari once took Chuck on a drive around some of the roads near the factory in the 250 GTE prototype during a visit. Jordan was a friend of Sergio Pininfarina. On some of his Ferrari orders Sergio asked if there were any special personalization requests.

    Chuck's son Mark is a forum member here on Ferrari Chat.
  5. Christian.Fr

    Christian.Fr Two Time F1 World Champ

    Jun 9, 2005
    Full Name:
    Mr Jordan was a great and pasionned man, it talk always about car, always...
  6. nthfinity

    nthfinity F1 Veteran

    Mar 21, 2005
    South East MI
    Full Name:
    Isaac not Issac
    "Never trust a Designer who talks too much."

    Any Regrets, Mr. Jordan?

    "I would have bought more Ferrari's!"
  7. To remove this ad click here.

  8. YD Aerotrain

    YD Aerotrain Rookie

    Dec 26, 2019
    Full Name:
    Yves Durin
    My interest is mainly for Chuck Jordan who, as GM executive, worked for the GM Aerotrain design in 1955/56 years. I'm looking for Aerotrain drawings with measures for modelling. I found a drawings photo in a web site where Ch.M. Jordan was mentionned but it is unreadable. May be should Mark Jordan have such documents ?
    Jeff KENNEDY spoke quickly about this experience.
    I know there are 2 Aerotrains or parts of it in St Louis and in Green Bay museums but it's a little bit far from home (France).
    To stay in the car world, Bugatti re-used ROYALE car motors for trains after 1932 crisis and manufactured about 80-90 trains for french railways companies. Lightweight was also part of the concept but longevity was not reached, maintenance costs as well.

    Thanks a lot for your help. YD

Share This Page