Contributed on behalf of Elia Russinoff by John Mellberg. Captions by John Mellberg.

Russ had a stellar career with 40 years as a designer with General Motors Design from 1955-1995. He graduated from Pratt Institute in 1954, and won the 1st national Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild award in 1949. Be sure to check out the first post featuring Elia Russinoff’s design work.



Pontiac ‘F’ Body Firebird, (1970-72 time frame) initially done as a 3/8 scale clay model in the Advanced Pontiac Design Studio.


  1. Russ,
    Great show of creativity! Thanks for sharing your talents and visions…..
    -John M. Mellberg

  2. Clark Lincoln

    My all time favorite from Russ was the 100 MPG design. Very pure and well proportioned form – reminded me of those beautiful 50’s and 60’s Italian sports coupes (Alfa, Zagato, Abarth, etc) Cheers, Russ!

  3. Walter Gomez

    Yes, more great looking designs. I love the micro cars; too bad GM never produced them!

  4. Bill Porter

    For most of the “lost decade” of the 1970s I had the great privilege of working with Russ in a studio called Advanced One at GM Design. I had just been moved there after four years of running Pontiac Production studio and needed a break from the political intensity of that position. Roger Hughet was my assistant and Russ and Dave McIntosh comprised the remainder of our design team. Davis P (Dave) Rossi, possibly the best sculptor-modeler who ever graced the industry, was our chief modeler. There was a remarkable chemistry among the group, we literally fed on each other’s unique talents.

    Perhaps in response to misapplied government pressures, Mideast “oil crises” and rampant Naderism, a sort of pall had settled over the design studios in that period. A majority of American production automobiles in the ’70 were characterized by boxy forms, plywood surfaces, often with massive “rolling office-building” fronts, not to mention absurd “pseudo-classic” gimmicks such as padded tops, pinstripes, “opera lamps”, and phony wire wheels.

    Russinoff’s uninhibited organic style, based on a love of form, human and animal, was in striking contrast to all that. His command of organic forms was awesome. Russ could out-Colani Colani.

    When called upon to do production type cars, he could, but it was like trying to make something graceful out of a cigar box–it didn’t always come off. But when his talents were turned to sports cars, or his beloved small cars, the results were truly wonderful. Russ’es genius lay in shrouding these juvenile proportions in a rich variety of toned muscle forms. A little rounder here, a little tighter there; stretched here, inflected there–he played them all off against strong, simplified window graphics that made them shell-like and spoke to their internal spaces. For example, see his “Mullet” or his “Egg Car” in the second series above. Russ’es best designs were, to quote MOMA’s Arthur Drexler, truly “hollow rolling sculpture.”

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