• Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
Michelle Christensen, lead exterior designer of the 2016 Acura NSX.Michelle Christensen. Unless you've been casting about the web for some behind-the-scenes takes on recent exotic car launches or were unusually curious during the early days of the sport crossover trend, her name probably means nothing to you. She grew up in Northern California, where her family drag-raced. Venerables like the 1932 Ford, Plymouth GTX, and Dodge Super Bee rolled through her family garage. And Christensen grew up designing prom dresses for friends and dreaming of working in a pit crew. In fact, she didn't even realize car design was a real profession until junior high, when her father pointed out Chip Foose at a car show. After that, she was hooked, so she went to Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, where she reimagined the Plymouth Barracuda as her senior project. Today, Christensen can add the title of lead exterior designer on the 2016 Acura NSX to her resume.

The first woman to lead the shape of a supercar, Christensen actually opened up her "First!" account with Acura in 2005 when the company swooped her up the night of graduation and she became its first female exterior car designer. Her first sketch on the job was a concept for the ZDX, and the bigwigs chose her design for production.

She joined the NSX team after the mid-engined concept was introduced at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, replacing the front-engined V10 concept (we encourage you to go back and look at what was versus what is). Christensen thereafter led a crew of eight through a rework of the sheetmetal, with the focus being to keep the "emotional, 3-D kind of feeling." Reminiscing about her family's utterly unadorned '32 Ford hot rod, she said the NSX team was committed to keeping the design simple and light.

Wind tunnel work led to larger bumper, hood and side intakes for better airflow on the production model. That, along with a switch in engine position, gave them a chance to go aggressive and to not only "punch more holes in it and make it more exotic," but also "take it to the gym and beef it up." In line with its decidedly un-retro rebirth, the third brake light that runs across the decklid is about the only nod to its predecessor.

At age 34, we're certain we haven't seen the last of Christensen or her designs.

Related Video:

2016 Acura NSX | 2015 NAIAS

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