• Aug 8, 2008

Based only on his work to date, history would remember Frank Stephenson as one of the most influential automotive designers of our time. He's credited with the resurrection of the retro hatch – having designed the MINI, Fiat 500 and Alfa MiTo – in addition to a portfolio of lust-worthy supercars for Ferrari and Maserati. It came as a surprise when the American-raised designer left his post as head of the Centro Stile Alfa Romeo, shortly after the Fiat Group hired former Pininfarina designer Lorenzo Ramaciotti to oversee styling for the entire group, and a big question mark had been left lingering over where he would head next.

Questions demand answers, and in due course this has received its own. Emerging reports now indicate that Frank Stephenson is going to McLaren to head up a new design team for its road car division. The development is an interesting one for McLaren, which used its F1 engineers to direct the styling of its previous road cars. However as the company strives to distance itself from Mercedes-Benz in the wake of the departing SLR, it is clear that McLaren hopes to run in the big leagues and go head-to-head with the likes of Ferrari, Lamborghini et al. Following in the footsteps of Gordon Murray is no mean feat, but we'll be looking forward to seeing what Stephenson and McLaren have in store for us next. Hats off to Trevor for the tip!

[Source: Car Design News]




I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 11 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      Stephenson's not American-raised. He spent his childhood in Spain after being born in Morocco. Not sure why/how he has an American passport though...
      • 6 Years Ago
      Please Frank, before you do, put BMW back on the right track with the Gen. 3 Mini. The brand is in serious danger of losing its way. The 02 was brilliant.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I think the front end of the current Mini was hit by the new EU pedestrian impact standards. And not in a good way. I think it shows how challenging it is to do 2nd gen retro designs (New Beetle, Mustang, etc.). I am keeping my 03.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I love the 02-06 design! If the 07-current design came out first, I probably wouldn't be driving a MINI now.

        With that said, I'd also like to see Stephenson 'fix' the MINI in its 3rd generation. I think I'll be ready to replace my current '04 by then, if he does.

        I'm kind of curious which rejected design ideas were used in the gen 2. Anyone know?
        • 6 Years Ago
        Give me a break. Ferrari has gone ugly ever since he went there and the Maseriati MC12 is the worst looking supercar by a mile. All in all, keep that vagina grille from MiTo away as far as possible.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Stephenson is a little overrated, his best design is certainly the new Mini. The Fiat 500 was styled before he joined that team, as was the MiTo. I met him, when studying at Coventry, he dropped by to tutor us a little- a generous thing to do I guess, and appreciated by us. He was perhaps a shade arrogant though (mainly about name dropping his ex-girlfriend- Candy Dulfer!).

      Just to clear up part of this story though- as is often the case you are mixing up stylists with designers and designers with engineers... Gordon Murray was an engineer, Peter Stevens was a stylist at McLaren (he penned the F1), although I believe he was actually working as a consultant? So McLaren have never let their F1 engineers (Murray) style any cars. Murray is a great engineer, and has a fantastic aesthetic sense so could be more accurately described as a designer. Frank is technically now the head of styling (these days called "design") and will not in any way be engineering McLaren's cars! If that's any clearer?!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Hair.
      • 6 Years Ago
      AK... The dashboard for one. I believe the larger side vent as well. There were sketches of rejected/unused/early designs on the MINI Canada website about 5 years or so ago. And in one of the drawings the center stack/speedo was the one that's being made now. And these were sketches from the 1st gen, not early sketches of the 2nd gen.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Gordon Murray did not do the styling on the McLaren F1, that was the work of Peter Stevens. So it would be Peter Stevens' boots Stephenson would have to fill.
      • 6 Years Ago
      So McLaren is about to make a super car that is a small hatchback?