A trove of little-known auto information (updated)

Today I performed a phone interview with Mr. Ruzzin, former Chief Designer for Cadillac. There were a lot of questions to ask but, in order to not overwhelm my new contact, I narrowed the list down to 20 (some being multi-part questions). I thought I’d be fortunate to get 15 minutes with him. We ended up talking for just shy of two hours and we probably could have kept talking about cars for another two hours. What a neat guy.

(Just a heads-up, this post is not the complete interview but rather some snippets and a brief discussion about the conversation.)

Mr. Ruzzin has quite the past at GM. He’s performed work for all of GM’s divisions, including their non-US brands, with the only exception being GMC. His experience spans decades, having worked on the 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado and 1967 Cadillac Eldorado; he also developed the Celebrity Eurosport and Eurosport VR models. I felt like a child sitting at the feet of a wise man as he imparted his behind-the-scenes knowledge to me.

Here are some sample nuggets:

Cadillac explored designs from two sources for the 1992 Eldorado, one from their own designers led by Mr. Ruzzin and the other from the world-renowned Italian car designing firm, Pininfarina. It was a competition and the two proposals were to be judged not only by executives but clinics as well. The winning car, the one we see on the roads, was Mr. Ruzzin’s. His team’s entry had beat out the vaunted Pininfarina’s! He described the Pininfarina car as looking “very nice” and “very elegant.” But he also said it looked foreign; whereas Cadillac’s looked very American. (An American look was preferred for Eldorado while Seville was to wear the international clothes.) When I asked Mr. Ruzzin if Pininfarina’s car had been influenced by the Allante, he flatly said no. Then, after a chuckle, he said, “that’s where we got the line on the Eldorado that’s just below the belt. We did it like the Allante.” So there is a little international flair to Eldorado after all!

Another interesting fact is that Cadillac’s designers wanted larger wheels on the Seville (17-inch instead of 16-inch). In fact, his words were, “everyone wanted larger wheels on Seville” and he said that they fit just fine. However, something entirely unrelated to the car itself, prevented them from making production. Any ideas?

How about this, have you ever wondered what happens to the clay models once their usefulness has run out?

Take a guess because I have answers to these and a whole lot more questions, that I can’t wait to share.

I debated on whether I should incorporate the information I gained from the interview into my 1992 Seville Design Notes article, as originally planned, or, since his willingness to share exceeded my expectations, provide the interview in it’s entirety as its own post. After all, we talked about several other cars. I think I’ll go the latter route. Yeah?

But the post is still a little ways away. After chatting and discussing the topics verbally, Mr. Ruzzin, also a writer, asked that I email the questions so that he could respond in writing. He said he’d possibly expand on some of the answers; I was more than happy to oblige.

If you are reading this Mr. Ruzzin, thank you and thanks also to GM for arranging the interview.