Homer C. LaGassey Jr. 1924-present

    Homer C. LaGassey Jr., a prominent figure in both Detroit's automotive design community and in the field of design education, has been named Honored Designer for the 1994 Eyes on Classic Design. LaGassey received an award for lifetime automotive design achievement at the Vision Honored Banquet, held at Cadillac World Headquarters the evening before the 1994 show opened.

LaGassey began his design career at General Motors in 1942, following graduation from Pratt Institute. Working under the legendary Harley Earl, LaGassey was assistant chief designer of the Pontiac and Buick production car studios. At Buick, he contributed to the famous Wildcat II and Wildcat III show cars. In 1955, LaGassey left GM to become chief designer of the Dodge and Suburban studios at Chrysler Corporation.

In 1959, he left Chrysler to form Homer LaGassey Design Consultants. In the next few years, he provided design services for a number of area firms before accepting an executive design position with the Ford Motor Company's Design Center.

At Ford, LaGassey helped design exteriors for the Mustang, Maverick, Falcon, Fairlane, and Thunderbird, and he supervised interior designs for the Lincoln Mark III and Mark IV. He also took the unusual step of designing racing car exteriors, among them the prototype "J Car" designed for the 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans.

LaGassey retired in 1980 and began a teaching career at Detroit's Center for Creative Studies. In 1959, when that institution was called the Society of Arts & Crafts, LaGassey was invited to develop a full-scale automotive design curriculum. Ten years later, the Center's program was attracting worldwide attention. Since its initial accreditation in 1962, more than 400 students have finished the LaGassey-designed four-year program. His graduates have found work at major automakers in Asia, Europe, and the U.S. and at many design and supplier firms.

LaGassey's formula for teaching is to find talent early and aim it quickly toward a professional career. He frequently identified middle-schoolers with potential and offered them instruction that led to design careers.

LaGassey retired from his work as a designer and educator in 1987 and now divides his time between homes in Greenbush, Michigan, and West Palm Beach, Florida.



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