What do the 1963 Corvette Stingray, Mako Shark I and II, the Boss 302 and 429 Mustangs, Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Corvair Super Spyder and even the Goodyear Blimp have in common? They were all the creations of Japanese American automobile designer Lawrence (Larry) Shinoda.
Born in 1930 in Los Angeles, Shinoda was interned with his family at Manzanar during World War II. Later, he built hot rods and became involved in the then-burgeoning drag race culture in Southern California. In 1955, he won the first National Hot Rod Association Nationals.
Thus, began a life-long affair with cars and positions at Ford, Packard and GM—ultimately leading to his work on concept cars that would give birth to the 1963 Corvette Sting Ray, which would secure Shinoda’s reputation as one of the most innovative automobile designers in the business.
He later started his own private design firm and worked in that capacity until his death from heart failure in 1997 (he was posthumously inducted into the Corvette Hall of Fame in 1998).
If you’re in the L.A. area between now and February 19, 2012, you can check out some of Shinoda’s work and learn more about the man as part of the Japanese American National Museum’s “Drawing the Line: Japanese American Art, Design & Activism” exhibition. Here’s a short video about Shinoda created by the Watase Media Arts Center in conjunction with the exhibit: