Get to know more about Filipino auto designers and the cars they penned
Giorgetto Giugiaro. Giuseppe Bertone. Battista Pininfarina.
These are just some of the heavyweights in the field of automotive design. They all came up with great designs and penned some of the most memorable cars over the years.
If you've noticed, they're also Italian.
One could argue that the Italians really have a knack for design but you'll be surprised to know that some fellow Pinoys have also sketched popular and even iconic cars as well. Some of them might be even sitting in your garage right now.
We are, of course, talking about Randy Rodriguez, Winifredo Camacho, and Benjamin Dimson.
Some of you may know them and some of you, well, might not. If you haven't heard much about them, now is the time to get to know them better through their most significant designs, some of which we may very well be driving.
Nissan Titan Warrior – Randy Rodriguez
Randy Rodriguez has had some significant assignments during his stint with Nissan, specifically Nissan Design America (NDA). One of them was to make the beefy-looking Titan pick-up even, well, beefier. The result is the Titan Warrior Concept, and it looks more than ready to take on trails and sand dunes.
The fenders were flares, ride height was increased, lights redesigned, and given a whole dollop of presence and attitude. The designer himself said that the pick-up's look is akin to a "suit of modern armor", which is befitting to its name when you think about it. It's a shame the Titan Warrior didn't reach production. It would have made one heck of a performance truck.
Nissan 370Z – Randy Rodriguez
But perhaps Rodriguez's crowning and defining moment in Nissan was coming up with the successor to the 350Z. Out of all the proposals made for the 370Z, Rodriguez's design was chosen. It still had many of the classic cues of the first-generation Z-Car with its low-slung design, swept-back front-end, and chunky fenders. At the same time, he pulled off the whole 'boomerang' theme Nissan had at the time tastefully too.
The current-generation Nissan 370Z may be over a decade old already, but the design still looks fresh. Rodriguez had captured the essence of classic Z-Cars and brought it to the modern age. It's a tough act redesigning an icon, but he had pulled it off spectacularly.
Perhaps fittingly, we're finally getting the 370Z officially here. We may have waited for a (very) long time for it, but we're glad we'll soon be able to appreciate Rodriguez's masterpiece from behind the wheel soon.
Mercedes-Benz X-Class Concept – Winifredo Camacho
Here's another pick-up penned by our fellow countryman, this time drawn up by Winifredo 'Wini' Camacho. While the production version would be credited to somebody else, Camacho had laid down the groundwork by turning the X-Class from just an idea to a realized concept: He did the show car.
Camacho had said that making the X-Class concept was a challenge. He mentioned that it typically takes 1 to 2 years to come up with a design, but he and his team only had 8 months to do it. And they built it around the platform of the Navara.
Nonetheless, Camacho's team pulled through and what he did was met with a good reception from the public. Mercedes-Benz did put it into production almost unchanged from the concept; a run that ended just recently.
Mercedes-Benz E-Class W212 – Winifredo Camacho
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class is one of the bread and butter models of the German brand, which means it's a tough ask to redesign it. Not only does it have to look like an all-new model, but its design must not alienate the traditional Mercedes-Benz buyer.
They could have gone for an evolutionary redesign with the W212 model (2009-2017), but Wini Camacho's design blended past and present elements into one elegant-looking package.
The W212 E-Class was radically different from past models. Gone were the round headlights and triangular theme of the models that preceded it, but he still kept that four-headlight design albeit in a more dramatic fashion. It was sharper to look at too and truly captured the essence of the brand at the time. Perhaps the most talked-about design elements on that car were its bulging rear fenders; a nod to the 'Ponton' models of the 1950s. His take on the E-Class proved a hit worldwide too, surpassing 1.6 million units sold over the span of the W212's life cycle.
Porsche 911 (964) – Benjamin Dimson
There will be those who say that redesigning the Porsche 911 is perhaps the easiest thing to do in the world. After all, why mess with a well-known shape, right?
But there's more to it than just making it more rakish and adding more modern touches. Remember how the 996-series 911 was criticized for its 'fried egg' headlights?
On the flipside, Benjamin Dimson absolutely nailed it a few years prior when he brought the 911 from the classic '60s design to the '80s. Now, the 964 is regarded as one of the most iconic series models from 911 history. He gave it more attitude by further accenting its hips, rounding off the edges, and making it more streamlined, all while keeping all the design elements that make a 911, well, a 911.
Dimson may have also been the key to retaining the shape of the 911 as the 964 was the first true all-new (well, mostly new) 911. Had Dimson dramatically changed the formula, the 911 as we know it might not what it is today.
Bonus: Porsche 959 – Benjamin Dimson
But here's another thing you might not have known about Dimson: He also had a hand in designing one of Porsche's most well-known supercars, the 959. Not only that, Dimson had made significant contributions to the design of the car, and it's great to know that a legendary car came to fruition thanks to a Filipino designer.
Under the direction of Richard Soederberg, the chief designer responsible for the 959's design development, Dimson, along with Wolfgang Möbius and the rest of the design team, got to work on the car. Dimson made major contributions to the design of the 959. He was the lead designer and his task was to oversee the body design, aerodynamic detailing, and managed body surfacing development for production and compliance.
The 959 concept first came out in 1983. Then in 1986, the production version was launched with the magic touches of Dimson and Möbius and it would become not just one of the top sports cars of the '80s, but also of all time.
Where are they now?
After a fruitful tenure with Nissan, Randy Rodriguez moved to Tesla and was even able to design the concept for their all-electric semi-truck. These days, he's based in China working for General Motors as director for advanced design over there.
Wini Camacho, on the other hand, is still with Mercedes-Benz but with a new post and title. Like Rodriguez, his office is now in China. Camacho is now the design manager at Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Center of China in Beijing.
As for Benjamin Dimson, he went on to design more Porsche models. Some of his works include the 928 S4, 944 Turbo, and 944 Cabriolet. He then moved to Mercedes-Benz in the late '80s.
He also had a brief stint with Audi before moving back to Mercedes-Benz in the early '90s. He spent over 20 years with Mercedes-Benz, having developed the 1996 AAV concept which eventually became the first-generation ML-Class. Dimson also had a hand designing the C-Class and S-Class from the mid-'00s. He now has his own design consultancy firm, Story / Dimson Design.
And here's another cool fact about Benjamin Dimson. During his tenure at Mercedes-Benz, he had actually discovered Wini Camacho at the Art Center College of Design. Dimson, also an alumnus of the aforementioned school then recruited Camacho to work at Mercedes-Benz. The two even worked together at the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Studio in Irvine, California.
And the rest, they say, is history.