Ralph Gilles may be one of the most highly respected automotive designers of the modern era, but he’s not just about drawing lines and shaping figures: he’s a car guy.
He’s not just a car guy either, he’s a motorsports aficionado and has quite the penchant for track days. An episode of the new Netflix documentary series “Abstract: The Art of Design” follows Gilles during the creative and design process of the Chrysler Portal concept. However, the documentary episode also dives into Gilles’ motorsports background, according to Automotive News (subscription required).
“I have an inner racer inside of me,” Gilles explains in the film. “I’ve been watching racing since I was a kid. I went to four different driving schools in a span of six years and briefly competed. But the part that speaks to me even to this day, and why I do it, is the escape.”
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Gilles is tasked with leading design at each of Fiat-Chrysler’s brands, but his heart has long been stolen by the Dodge Viper. He owns the very first Viper ACR and had each worker from the Conner Avenue assembly plant sign the vehicle. He goes on to explain why the Viper drew him to Chrysler years ago.
“At the time when the Viper came out, it had double the horsepower of the Mustang. It was the fastest car you could buy. Insanely large engine, a V-10 that was eight liters. I mean, just enormous. And you could buy that car for less than $50,000 when it came out, so it was unheard of.”
Other figures from the design industry are featured in the eight-part series, ranging from interior designers to shoe designers to architects to illustrators and photographers. Episodes are live and streaming on Netflix, but look for Gilles in episode five of the series.