Intriguing news comes by way of BusinessWeek this afternoon indicating that Saab has hired American designer Jason Castriota to serve as its head designer. Surely you remember Castriota, the man responsible for such memorable designs as James Glickenhaus' one-off Ferrari P4/5 by Pininfarina and the somewhat controversial but striking Bertone Mantide.
It seems that the 36-year-old Castriota's first assignment at the reborn Swedish automaker will be redesigning the firm's bread-and-butter 9-3 range into something a bit more unique and upscale. Expect to see the first fruits of his labor sometime in 2012, which, incidentally, is the year that the quirky company hopes to regain profitability.
We have no idea what the designer has in store for the 9-3, but it had better be good to take on the likes of the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. For what it's worth, company CEO Victor Muller said, "The 9-3 design as made by him is basically done, and I can tell you it is spectacular. It is truly aircraft-inspired and Swedish-clean."
Sounds promising... but what else would Muller say? In any case, we're anxiously looking forward to our first glimpse at Castriota's first mainstream project to date. While we're waiting, weigh in on whether Saab's hiring move was a good one or not with our poll below.
*UPDATE: Official Saab announcement added after the jump.
New Design Director at Saab Automobile
TROLLHATTAN, Sweden, June 18 /PRNewswire/ --
-- Former Pininfarina and Bertone designer joins Saab leadership team
-- Will lead design for Saab's product expansion program
Saab Automobile today announced the appointment of former Bertone and Pininfarina designer Jason Castriota as its new Design Director.
Castriota, 36, now takes the lead role in design at Saab, reporting directly to Saab Automobile CEO Jan Ake Jonsson. He and his design company will be responsible for exterior and interior design and will lead the design activities at Saab as the brand renews and broadens its product range.
Announcing the appointment, Jan Ake Jonsson said: "We're delighted to welcome Jason to our leadership team. He has an outstanding track record in automotive design and will help us take the brand forward. He will play a key role in expressing all that's best in the innovative tradition of Saab design as we carry our brand's roots into the future."
"I'm greatly looking forward to joining such an iconic brand," said Castriota. "Saab has a very strong and distinctive heritage which gives it great potential to develop. This is an exciting opportunity for me to help shape its future products."
Victor Muller, Saab Automobile's Chairman, added: "Bringing a young, highly-talented designer to Saab underlines the company's determination to produce cars which stand out because of their unique aircraft inspired, Swedish identity. With Jason heading up Saab design, we will be making landmark cars for the foreseeable future."
Castriota hails from New York and graduated from Emerson College in Boston before attending the prestigious Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. In 2001, he left the college to join Pininfarina's design studio in Turin, Italy. He took up the position of Director of Design at Stile Bertone in 2008 and then opened a design consultancy with offices in New York and Turin.
His recruitment is an important strategic step by Saab in its renaissance as a newly-independent carmaker.
Source: Saab Cars North America