Designing Buicks in the 1980s and 1990s


Buick Studio, 1984


Bill Porter tells his story of his years as Chief Designer of Buick I Studio from 1980 to 1996. 47 minutes. I was a designer in Buick I in 1974/75 and from 1977 to 1985, so many of these scenes are quite familiar.

This video was part of Buick’s 100th Anniversary Celebration. It was presented in Bowers Theater, Flint Michigan, July, 2003. 49 minutes.

  1. christopher dowdey

    WOW, What a phenominal Designer and Historian. I had the honor of working with Mr. Porter on a few Buick Concept cars back in the day when I was Designer at ASC Creative Services. Some of the vehicles ASC helped to coordinate Design and build were the 2000 Buick LaCrosse, Bengal, Ceilo and various production models.
    Although these projects were done after Mr. Porter retired…..I still got the chance to process some of his Design Guidance on a few of the earlier Buick Projects..and he was a joy to work with…humble, low key…VERY concise in his direction and totally an abundance of sophisticated Design Language, talent and over the top gifted.
    Congrats Mr. Bill Porter on a great career and wonderful leadership in the Industry.
    Cheers and many Blessings!


  2. Tony Miller

    That was a first class presentation, at least as noteworthy for Mr. Porter’s excellent delivery as for its content. Nice work!

  3. Ken Pickering

    Bill Porter has so many talents! A true creative designer, an automotive historian, an authority on Stickley furniture and other antiques and an eloquent spokesperson for the design profession. Bill has a way of explaining the nuances of design so we can all understand them. I recall when I questioned Bill on the first Giugiaro design of the VW Golf, Bill drew me a quick side view sketch showing me the intersection of lines and why the design was successful.

    However, Bill did not tell the whole story of the challenges faced by the designers in the his time in the Buick Studio. Corporate Average Fuel Economy was king and so were the Chief Engineers. Bill was somewhat fortunate that the Buick Chief Engineer was more understanding as others were not. I recall a Division Chief Engineer telling V. P. Irv Rybicki, “If you make that clay model one millimeter longer, I will not make my fuel economy requirement.”

    Bill Porter knows surfaces and the subtleties of form. He is the consummate designer and Buick, among others, was fortunate to have him in a design leadership role.
    Ken Pickering

  4. Ray Shaffer

    Excellent and educational film! I really enjoyed watching it. Thank you so much for posting such wonderful material. Please keep up the great work.

  5. Dave Maurer

    Bill Porter was also an inspiring design instructor. As one of his night class students at Wayne State University in the late ’60’s, I was delighted to find this excellent dissertation on Dean’s Garage today.

  6. Rick Sand

    I had the pleasure of interviewing Bill Porter for “Inside Buick” Magazine just before the introduction of the downsized 1986 LeSabre for a feature story on the new cars’ design and features. In addition to being a consummate pro, he went out of his way to introduce me to everyone in the studio who had been involved in bringing this new automobile to life. He was obviously very proud of the work they had done and wanted to be sure they all shared in the credit. Even as impressed as I was with the new Buick, I was more impressed with Mr. Porter – what a class
    act. A lot of his excellent taste is reflected in these automobiles. Thank you.

  7. David Mcintosh

    I worked with Bill in advanced one, a creative fun experience where I learned about design. I also took the design history class he introduced at CCS and Wayne . Thanks for all the talent and inspiration, bill and congratulations.

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