Who is Hideo Kodama?

by Dick Ruzzin

“Hideo Kodama was a designer from Japan, the first hired by a European car company.  Hideo exerted a very creative, artistic and harmonic influence at Opel Design through his beautiful sketches and his personal presence He also was a very large design contributor throughout the years, ascending to a position beyond Studio Chief. He fathered the Opel Corsa and all of its variations for many years. Hideo became a design super star in Japan through his work at Opel and magazine articles about design and illustration.”

This rendering seminar was published in Car Styling, Issue 6, April 1974. There was no English text. This is the way it used to be done.

See The 1979 Opel Bitter story for Hideo Kodama Opel renderings. 

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  1. John Houlihan

    I worked with Kodama San in ‘68 or ‘69. I recall the late Graham Bell (God rest his soul) was in the same studio. Both those designers were exceptionally talented. They were my friends. I think of them from time to time.


    And I think of you John. The time you went up on the roof of my garage to take a plan view picture of my Mangusta. It turned out wonderful!

  3. Beautiful illustrations. They really convey the excitement of the Voisin design.

  4. I was privileged – no, BLESSED – to work as Assistant Chief Designer to Hideo in his studio at Opel Design in 1979-1980. He was (is) an inspiration, a good friend, a great boss and an outstanding designer. Kodama prints adorn the walls of my office as I write this . . . his works remain timeless and exemplary highlights of automotive art techniques all but lost in today’s digital world.

  5. Ed Welburn

    Ed Welburn

    I love this rendering seminar by the great Kodama. The quality of his work is on an entire different level. Hideo Kodama was considered one of the gods of design by many of us designers in the 1970s/80s. His designs always had a confidence and appropriateness second to none, and his ability to communicate his ideas through incredible illustrations gave us all something to emulate. I can’t thank him enough for showing us the way.


    Hideo is a great designer and great to work with. He was very well respected by everyone at Opel Design and later GM Europe Design. He was fun.

    His greatest skills are his ability to draw, manage light and to capture the character of a cars artistic content as these sketches show. Using color to enhance the design, each sketch is a piece of unique artwork. His work always stood out, when you saw it you knew who did it and it gave you a jolt.

    Thanks Hideo for all that inspiration and the pleasure of seeing your work.

  7. Tony Hatter

    Hideo was my studio chief at the Opel Design studios in the early ’80s. His fantastic rendering and illustration technique has influenced me to this day.
    An outstanding command of form and proportions, beautifully captured on vellum with marker and chalk.
    But more importantly, he was (is) the most modest and congenial person I have had the fortune to work with throughout my career.
    Hope to bump into you Hideo this year at Schloss Schwetzingen.

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