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]