Even though it looks easy, people tend to forget how designing a car is an extremely complicated and frustrating job. To materialize a vision in an aesthetically pleasing form considering all the construction, technical, and financial limitations is a bit like dancing on the edge of a cliff. So, when a car designer manages to pull it off and creates a timeless shape which stands out as a design icon, it is nothing short of magic. Think of car designers as music producers of the car world who constantly battle drug-crazed musicians, groupie girls, deadlines, and aggressive record companies. That is why car designers are top-notch automotive celebrities and mavericks of the industry. Today, we will tell you more about seven people that defined the concepts of car aesthetics and changed the industry forever.

Walter de Silva

One of the most influential figures in modern European car design was born in 1951 in Lecco, Italy. During his lengthy career, de Silva managed to revolutionize the designs of Alfa Romeo’s, Volkswagen’s, and Audi’s while designing some of the most iconic cars produced in the last 30 years. For example, he was the guy responsible for the retro-futurism trend of the late `90s, and the beautiful Alfa Romeo 156 was one of his best works. Then he moved to Audi and put his personal stamp on almost every model since the early 2000s. We bet you adore the fantastic Audi R8 supercar, right? Well, this is a classic Walter de Silva, along with dozens of other Volkswagen and Seat products. The chances are that if you look through your window, you will see at least one of his cars passing by.

Sergio Pininfarina

Batista Farina was responsible for establishing the Pininfarina design house in the late `40s. However, his son Sergio Pininfarina was the one who transformed it into a giant company with assembly lines that produced his designs under a contract from Fiat, Ferrari, Peugeot and many others. From an early age, Sergio was educated to be a car designer, but he was also a smart businessman. He understood that bespoke car bodies were a thing of the past and that the industry moves to mass production. One of Pininfarina`s most significant assets was a close relationship with Enzo Ferrari, and from the early `60s, practically every Ferrari model was designed by Sergio and his associates. Of course, Pininfarina did not just design Ferraris, and his signature was on cars such as the Ford Focus Vignale, Hyundai Matrix, and Honda Beat, along with many others.

Harley Earl

Every car designer today owes a lot to Harley Jefferson Earl, former General Motors executive. Harley Earl`s work is not just an everlasting inspiration, but his techniques and approaches have become standard procedures ever since. He practically invented 1:1 clay models, sketching, and, most importantly, concept cars. His Buick Y Job was the first concept car the world had ever seen, introduced in 1939. Throughout his long and fruitful career, he was responsible for some of the most beautiful and iconic, mid-century American cars such as the 1953 Corvette, 1959 Cadillac, Buick Riviera, and so many more. He will always be remembered as the person who successfully implemented the futuristic, space-age design of the `50s to the automotive industry. Next time you see classic American cars with chrome tail fins, remember Mr. Earl.

Marcello Gandini

If you are a real car fan, the chances are that you had or maybe even still have a poster of Gandini`s car on the wall. Marcello was the person behind the Lamborghini Miura, Countach and Diablo, Alfa Romeo Montreal, and iconic Lancia Stratos. He is the father of the Italian supercar we all know and love today. Besides the Italian companies, Gandini worked with Citroen on the futuristic BX model as well as with BMW on the E12, a model that defined the 5-Series for generations to come. Signore Marcello was also the man behind the crazy Renault 5 Turbo, Maserati Quattroporte, and the obscure, yet impressive Cizeta-Moroder V16T supercar. He is still active today, and his career is nothing short of remarkable.

Ian Callum

Even though his name is not so well known outside the car design circles, Ian Callum is one of the most significant car designers alive. During a career spanning over four decades, he was responsible for the legendary Ford, Jaguar, and Aston Martin models. Many of us lust after the muscular Escort RS Cosworth, elegant Aston Martin DB7, and beautiful Jaguar XJ. Those were all of Callum`s designs. His impeccable taste for elegant yet dynamic shapes was an integral part of two amazing revivals from the brink of bankruptcy. First, Aston Martin in the early `90s and secondly – Jaguar in 2011. When the F-Type, XF, XE, and F-Pace were introduced, Jaguar finally became profitable again. Needless to say, Ian Callum designed all those cars.

Giorgetto Giugiaro

Amongst the many talented Italian designers, the name Giorgetto Giugiaro has a special meaning. He is not just one of the most talented and most productive designers ever. He is also the missing link between bodywork artisans of the past and the computer-driven car stylists of tomorrow. He started in Bertone in the early `60s but later established his own company called Italdesign. Even though Giugiaro was no stranger to exotic and high-performance machines, his most successful designs were ordinary, everyday cars that still had that stylish edge and Italian flair. Cars such as the Fiat Panda, Fiat Punto, Volkswagen Golf Mk1 and Jetta, Lancia Delta, Renault 19, and SAAB 9000 are all examples of Giugiaro`s approach and style.

Chris Bangle

Chris Bangle defines what a car designer should be – controversial, futuristic, and authentic in his vision and work. Bangle started at Opel, then moved to Fiat, but his most famous work was with BMW. For almost two decades, he was BMW’s design guru, and managed to turn a somewhat controversial brand into a design sensation. The BMW of the `90s had just a few models that shared the same design elements. While the BMW of the `2000s is a celebration of shapes, details, concepts, and ideas. Always on edge and often criticized for his approach, Bangle is still one of the best designers around with a lot more to show.