Classiq Designer Series—Featuring Elia ‘Russ’ Russinoff

From his early drawing of the Corvair under Ned Nickels, to his advanced futuristic designs in the Pontiac Advanced studio, Elia ‘Russ’ Russinoff is one of those designers who has been able to touch so many GM cars that spark joy when we see them. Russ was even a 1st Place Sr. National Winner in the Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild Model Car Competition in 1949. In his retirement Elia still draws cars along with other ex-designers in the “League of Retired Automotive Designers.”.

Future videos in the series will feature Frank Pascoe, Vince Geraci, Bill Michalak, Wayne Kady, and Bill Porter.

Video Credits: Julie Hyde-Edwards and Robert Edwards for making the videos possible, Clasiq for producing the series. Sponsored by Farmers Insurance.

Published on Dean’s Garage by permission by Charlie Rubin, Clasiq COO and Founder.

Dean’s Garage, The Future is Back release: January, 2020.

GM Designer, Elia Russinoff

What do Automotive Designers Draw When They Retire?

Have you ever thought about doing the same job after you retire…just for fun? The league of Retired Automotive Designers is a group of ex-industry professionals who continue to design and re-imagine automobiles from defunct or closed car manufacturers and dream what they would look like built today.

What does GTO stand for?

John Delorean is credited with naming the Pontiac GTO, but where did the name GTO come from? Learn the origins of the name as well as what happened to Ed Cole the first time he presented the GTO.

  1. Russ,

    Always fun to talk to.
    A great talent that we all could see, he was always congenial and open with a great sense of humor no matter who you were. He was very well liked by management and the rest of us admired him for that. He deserved to be as his creativity was unquestionable.

    He loved rumors and you could always get some sense as to what was going on in the building when you talked with him. He made it a very fun endeavor. There were several themes that he drew every so often that were later realized by other companies. He knew what was coming, it just did not happen at GM at that time.

    More than anything he is a great person, to have known him was to know one of the great designers at GM Design. His design sense is clearly visible in the video, his house looks wonderful.

    Dick Ruzzin

  2. Congratulations Russ,
    Dick Ruzzin has said it well about you. It was great working with you and I learned so much about car design from you for which I’m forever grateful. Best wishes and thanks for knowing you across the years…
    Your tire kickin friend, John M. Mellberg

  3. Glen Durmisevich

    Great interview Russ. I have always admired Russinoff because he was always looking towards the future. What was coming next in design and automobiles, which may have been 10 years out or more. He always created provocative forms and designs and still does.

  4. Nick

    We meet in Pontiac studio 1962 and I left 1964 for leave of absence. Russinof in those days was ahead of the other designers in Pontiac but Mr. Mitchel would look at his sketches
    For several minutes but never chose one. Russ had a lot of color in his work and it resembled French impressionist art. Like a Monet, Bill Mitchel would even look around to see if anyone was watching and would touch Russ’s work.

    If anyone remembers that Roger Huget was Jack Humberts assistant then please go and visit Roger. He is in a nursing home just east of 12 Oaks Mall on the south side of 12 mile Road. Like all of us not much time left.

    Russ was married to a wonderful woman who passed away and we used to get together at his home in Farmington Hills. Russ was kind enough to drive me home from work when I had sold my car and was waiting for my new one. We lived Five miles from Russes home.

    Wednesday morning GM people meet at Panera Bread at thirteen mile road south side and Woodward just east of Royal Oak Beaumont Hospital. If you want to talk cars come and join Russ and the other retirees.

  5. Russ was a great mentor to me when I worked with him in 1985 in Ron Hill’s Advanced Aero Studio. Great memories working with Charlie Greafe and Hank Cramer as well in that studio. Thank you Russ for your kind words of encouragement. I’ve been with Mercedes-Benz Design for almost 34 years now, and you were a major part of me getting here.
    Chris Rhoades, ACCD ’86

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