Tom Tjaarda 1934-present

    Tom Tjaarda was born on July 23, 1934. The son of John Tjaarda, a noted stylist whose creations included the streamlined Lincoln Zephyr of the 1930's. From Tom's youth it was obvious to those around him that he would one day become a superlative designer.

While majoring in Architecture at the University of Michigan, a professor in industrial design gave Tom the assignment of constructing a scale model of a sports station wagon. Upon seeing his student's finished project, the professor was so impressed that he showed it to his friend, Luigi Segre, the then, head of Carrozzeria Ghia of Turin, Italy.

Segre immediately offered Tjaarda a job and, as they say, the rest is history. After moving to Turin, over the next two years, Tjaarda designed several production cars, prototypes and show cars.

After spending a year working on the city of Turin's Italia '61 Design Exhibition, Tjaarda was subsequently hired by the famed coach building firm, Pininfarina. Here, several production cars and prototypes were his designs, including two Ferraris, the Fiat 124 Spider, a Lancia, a Mercedes-Benz and the one-off show car, the Corvette Rondine.

In 1965, Tom was hired by OSI-Fergat, where he was involved in the production of automotive stampings and wheels. When Giorgetto Giugiaro left Carrozzeria Ghia in 1967, Tom soon found himself back with his former employer, now as head of design. For the next eight years, he was the styling force behind numerous, memorable Ghia designs, including two of its most famous; the sleek, mid-engined DeTomaso Pantera and the Ford Fiesta economy car.

By the mid-1970's, Tom had caught the eye of the styling executives at Fiat. In 1977, Italy's largest automotive concern hired him to run their Advanced Design Studio. Here, he oversaw the Tipo 4 proposals, the Lancia Thema, Fiat Croma, and others.

Rayton Fissore became his new home in 1980. Besides working with Chrysler in Detroit and Citroen of France, Tom put his stamp on the off-road, sport-ute market in 1985 with the Rayton Fissore Magnum 4X4, a vehicle that remained in production well into the 1990's.

In the mid-1980's, Tom left Rayton Fissore and formed his own company, Dimensione Design, now known as Tjaarda Design. By properly utilizing his talents and those of a small, hand-picked group of Turin's top, sub-contractors, for the past number of years, Tjaarda Design has been able to offer manufacturers an intelligent, cost effective alternative in the study and production of design ideas, prototypes and production cars.

Tjaarda Design

"Quickly and efficiently responding to a client's desires is key in today's rapidly changing global marketplace"

Located in the heart of Turin, capital to Italy's styling industry, Tjaarda Design was originally formed in 1985 under the name of Dimensione Design. Since its inception, the firm has worked with some of the automotive world's most famous and respected names, from all market sectors. Included are mass manufacturers such as Chrysler, Saab and Fiat Iveco. Niche market and performance clients include Aston Martin, Bugatti and Bitter. Off-road/Sport-ute studies were done for LaForza and Sermac, while other clients have ranged from America's ASC Incorporated and PPG to Zastava and Piaggio. All were given timely, cost-effective solutions to their targeted market and design queries.

How is Tjaarda Design able to accomplish this, when production costs seem to spiral continuously upward? Simply, Tom Tjaarda has long maintained that a tightly-knit group of talented designers and craftsmen could best serve the global automotive community, thus displaying a "lean and mean" attitude similar to that found today in numerous American corporate entities in this era of downsized corporate structures.

Such an approach allows Tjaarda Design to quickly respond to markets that undergo changes or suddenly open and develop at a rapid rate. Additionally, for mature markets such as North America, Europe and Japan, studies and production of high performance motorcars, sport-utes and other niche vehicles have remained a cost-effective reality at Tjaarda Design.

At the center of the firm is Tom Tjaarda himself. The wealth of knowledge he has accumulated during boom and bust periods of the business cycle over the past four decades has allowed him to survive and prosper in all business climates by being particularly responsive to an individual manufacturer's needs and requirements.

Tjaarda's lengthy experience in Turin has also led to a tight association with several hand-picked subcontractors who understand manufacturing deadlines and budgets. This allows Tjaarda Design to act incisively as a sounding board for design studies, develop scale and 1:1 models, design and build running prototypes, or oversee the production of limited production and niche vehicles.

Tom Tjaarda



For more information please read:

Biographies of Prominent Carriage Draftsmen - Carriage Monthly, April 1904

Marian Suman-Hreblay - Dictionary of World Coachbuilders and Car Stylists

Daniel D. Hutchins - Wheels Across America: Carriage Art & Craftsmanship

Marian Suman-Hreblay - Dictionary of World Coachbuilders and Car Stylists

Michael Lamm and Dave Holls - A Century of Automotive Style: 100 Years of American Car Design

Nick Georgano - The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile: Coachbuilding

George Arthur Oliver - A History of Coachbuilding

George Arthur Oliver - Cars and Coachbuilding: One Hundred Years of Road Vehicle Development

Hugo Pfau - The Custom Body Era

Beverly Rae Kimes - The Classic Car

Beverly Rae Kimes - The Classic Era

Richard Burns Carson - The Olympian Cars

Brooks T. Brierley - Auburn, Reo, Franklin and Pierce-Arrow Versus Cadillac, Chrysler, Lincoln and Packard

Brooks T. Brierley - Magic Motors 1930

James J. Schild - Fleetwood: the Company and the Coachcraft

John R. Velliky - Dodge Brothers/Budd Co. Historical Photo Album

Stephen Newbury -  Car Design Yearbook 1

Stephen Newbury -  Car Design Yearbook 2

Stephen Newbury -  Car Design Yearbook 3

Dennis Adler - The Art of the Sports Car: The Greatest Designs of the 20th Century

C. Edson Armi - The Art of American Car Design: The Profession and Personalities

C. Edson Armi - American Car Design Now

Penny Sparke - A Century of Car Design

John Tipler - The World's Great Automobile Stylists

Ivan Margolius - Automobiles by Architects

Jonathan Bell - Concept Car Design

Erminie Shaeffer Hafer - A century of vehicle craftsmanship

Ronald Barker & Anthony Harding - Automobile Design: Twelve Great Designers and Their Work

John McLelland - Bodies beautiful: A history of car styling and craftsmanship

Frederic A. Sharf - Future Retro: Drawings From The Great Age Of American Automobiles

Paul Carroll Wilson - Chrome Dreams: Automobile Styling Since 1893

David Gartman - Auto Opium: A Social History of American Automobile Design

Nick Georgano - Art of the American Automobile: The Greatest Stylists and Their Work

Matt Delorenzo - Modern Chrysler Concept Cars: The Designs That Saved the Company

Thom Taylor - How to Draw Cars Like a Pro

Tony Lewin & Ryan Borroff - How To Design Cars Like a Pro

Frederick E. Hoadley - Automobile Design Techniques and Design Modeling: the Men, the Methods, the Materials

Doug DuBosque - Draw Cars

Jonathan Wood - Concept Cars

D. Nesbitt - 50 Years Of American Auto Design

David Gartman - Auto Opium: A Social History of American Automobile Design

Lennart W. Haajanen & Karl Ludvigsen - Illustrated Dictionary of Automobile Body Styles

L. J. K Setright - The designers: Great automobiles and the men who made them

Goro Tamai - The Leading Edge: Aerodynamic Design of Ultra-Streamlined Land Vehicles

Brian Peacock & Waldemar Karwowski - Automotive Ergonomics

Bob Thomas - Confessions of an Automotive Stylist

Brooke Hodge & C. Edson Armi - Retrofuturism: The Car Design of J Mays

Gordon M. Buehrig - Rolling sculpture: A designer and his work

Henry L. Dominguez - Edsel Ford and E.T. Gregorie: The Remarkable Design Team...

Stephen Bayley - Harley Earl (Design Heroes Series)

Stephen Bayley - Harley Earl and the Dream Machine

Serge Bellu - 500 Fantastic Cars: A Century of the World Concept Cars

Raymond Loewy - Industrial Design

Raymond Loewy - Never Leave Well Enough Alone

Philippe Tretiack - Raymond Loewy and Streamlined Design

Angela Schoenberger - Raymond Loewy: Pioneer of American Industrial Design

Laura Cordin - Raymond Loewy


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