Friday, May 30, 2008


Hi again everyone

I would like to introduce you to someone who is not only very cool, but well known within car circles, but not much further, even though people who aren't car fanatics almost always appreciate him and his endeavors.

His name is Larry Shinoda, he was born in Southern California in 1930, he was an talented artist who honed his artistic talents during grade school. During World War II, Larry and his family were held in an internment camp for Japanese Americans. As a young man, he built hot rods and raced them on the streets of Los Angeles, he eventually went to work for Ford Motor Company in 1955 after being kicked out of the Art Center College of Design in Los Angles for being in Larry's words "a malcontent".

He stayed at Ford for one year, then moved to Packard in January of 1956. During his time with Packard, things were slow and the company was in financial trouble. Larry took a leave from the company and went to Indianapolis and worked on the car that won the Indy 500 that year driven by Pat Flaherty, a Watson built car, but styled by Larry. In September of 1956, he went to work for General Motors. Larry worked a little on the SS racer, mostly details, but when Bill Mitchell purchased the SS mule chassis from GM, Larry went to work in Mitchell's basement, refining the design of the clay model into what would become the 1959 Sting Ray sports racer. Because GM had banned racing, the Sting Ray did not say Corvette anywhere on the vehicle. Larry was mechanic, pit crew, designer and what ever else was required on the car. Dr. Dick Thompson drove the Sting Ray racer. The Sting Ray Racer was the foundation for the 1963 Shinoda designed Corvette Sting Ray.

Now, I know what you're thinking, "But MM, how could you? Talking about Chevy's and Corvettes when you're suppose to be a die hard Mustang fanatic" Well gentle reader, please bear with me, I'll get to my point...

At around the same time that Chevy was introducing the Shinoda designed Sting Ray Corvette, Ford's general manager, Lee Iacocca, envisioned a small sports car to replace the full sized muscle cars of the era. Originally named after the P-51 Mustang fighter plane, the Ford Mustang (pony car) was a success from the very beginning. Five years later, noted automobile designer, Larry Shinoda (who had designed the Z28 Camaro, '63 Corvette Stingray), introduced the original Boss 302 and Boss 429 Mustangs. Bursting onto the racing scene in 1969'-70', they were the car to beat. Winning both NHRA drag racing events and SCCA Trans-Am championships, the Boss Mustangs are some of the most recognizable Mustangs of all time.

Larry passed away at his home on November 13, 1997 of Heart failure. Larry had just passed the final tissue-match test for his kidney transplant the day before he died.

Larry Shinoda was not only responsible solely or in part for the 1963 Split window Sting Ray, the Z/28 Camaro, the Boss 302 and Boss 429 (Both the originals and the newer 1994 models), he was also responsible for the Ford Torino 428 and numerous other projects. This is a man who shaped an era of "Muscle" for cars, helping to take us from the mundane to the insane in some cases. If I had a cup to raise, I would raise it to Larry Shinoda.