Photos and text courtesy of William Quan.
Oldsmobile wanted to highlight the introduction of the Quad Four engine by showing it off as a highly modified engine mounted onto an Indy type racing chassis. The goal was to have the car break the world lap record around an Indy-style oval track and be driven by former Indy 500 winner, A.J. Foyt.
Our goal was to develop an eye-catching interior to complement the exterior development for an introduction at the Chicago Auto Show. So in the summer of 1984, our design team made a trip to the Michigan 500 track to research the car chassis and to understand the driving needs of the racers. Upon returning, I started developing the design themes. We wanted to convey a design that was not only reflected the essence of a race machine, but also incorporate some high tech electronics such as Head-Up Display, Flip-Up Digital Info Panels, Access Panels to the onboard computers, and video cameras. My design themes were inspired by the F-16 fighter aircraft cockpit as well as some of the fantastic robotic models coming from Japan.
One minor problem that developed during our design phase was that we could not obtain any reference drawings from England where the March racing chassis were built. Without those drawings we could not accurately build our upper portion of our design to properly interface with the real car. We found out that the people in England knew their job well enough to complete the cars without reference drawings since they were all hand-built. Luckily, GM Design Staff was able to obtain a body chassis that had been involved in a crash, allowing us to take critical reference points. We had the unique opportunity to work closely with some very forward-thinking engineers from GM’s Delco Electronics that provided us with the digital display panels and supported us in developing all the electronic components, including the head-up display unit.
The interior design was completed by 1986 and introduced with the exterior show car model at the 1987 Chicago Auto Show. This was one of my most favorite projects. I had the pleasure to work with a fantastic group of people at Design Staff, incorporate cutting-edge electronics, and establish a great working relationship with various other GM groups such as Delco.
Thanks very much to the very talented William Quan who now works as an Industrial Designer for Teague in Seattle, Washington.
Gary: In the group photo with the studio people standing behind the car, the modeler Peter Bond-Nelson is 4th from the left. I too should know a few more but Pete worked with me in Pontiac Studio back in the late ’60s which helped me to remember his name. Sadly, I heard that Pete passed away in Florida a few years ago.
Bill Quan also worked in Buick Interior Studio under Paul Tatseos in the early 1980s and contributed to the design of the ’85 Electra and Park Avenue interior.
Regards, Bill Porter
Great article on the Aerotech interior! I thought you would enjoy seeing a vintage 50’s race car interior design rendering from my collection. I don’t have the history on this piece, it appears to say “Bell” on the side, maybe it was done for Bell Helmets or drawn by Graham Bell? It came to me with a group of unrelated GM renderings, so I believe it was done at GM, but not sure. Anyway, it’s very futuristic and William Quan or perhaps some of your readers would enjoy seeing it or may know something about it.
Thank you for a wonderful piece, Jeff
My classmate William Quan and I graduated June 76, the first class from the new Art Center campus in Pasadena. I went to Chrysler Design in Highland Park, MI where I worked on the package and design phases of the Dodge Caravan (see attached rendering). William was a quiet young man but very intelligent and talented. Thanks for the item.
Cordially, Rich Boyd
Rich, I was at Art Center at the time and did go to the graduation ceremonies (I still have the program somewhere). Bill Mitchell gave the commencement address! Did you work on any of the minivan school projects with Strother MacMinn (Mac)?
Bill Quan! Great interior concepts, I can see why it is a fav. I interned at Teague doing Boeing work at the factory/design locations in Everett and Renton abotu 15 years ago. You must have been working in Redmond, I didn’t meet you, but I remember being in awe of your talented work that was filed away there.
I recognize all the faces in the group photo, but only some of the names. Larry Wallen is 2nd from left, I believe he was the Olds Interior studio chief at the time. Pete Bond-Nelson, 4th from left, sculptor (sorry to hear he’s no longer with us). Paul Arnone is next to Pete (in the white tie), studio engineer. Nick Moskatow is 3rd from right, designer. George LaPlante is 2nd from right, studio engineer.
We had a lot of publicity about the Aero tech exterior
But not enough of the great renderings that created the interior!
Very impressive , I am glad to see the interior studio combined
With exterior now.