Ralph Gilles is arguably the consummate “car guy.” That appellation is predicated on skills, talent and passion for all things automotive, and in his long career at Chrysler—he started there in 1992—he has demonstrated all of those characteristics with panache. Were he to have done no more than being the designer credited with styling the 2005 Chrysler 300, he would have made his bones as being among the best, but that’s only a small part of what he’s accomplished.
Here is a man who started out as a designer in the Design Office, who now not only runs design (officially: Senior Vice President, Product Design, Chrysler LLC), but who is also the president and CEO of SRT Brand and Motorsports.
SRT is the place where Chryslers, Dodges and Jeeps are made into performance products, predicated on five aspects: awe-inspiring powertrains; outstanding ride, handling and capability; benchmark braking; aggressive and functional exteriors and race-inspired and high-performance interiors.
And SRT is the place from whence the 640-hp Viper comes.
On this evening’s edition of “Autoline After Hours” John McElroy and I are joined in the studio by Frank Marcus of Motor Trend. And we talk about things ranging from the 2015 Honda Fit’s clever packaging to the Rallye Monte-Carlo ZENN (Zero Emission, No Noise).
But what is most pertinent, engaging and enjoyable is Ralph Gilles, discussing things ranging from the 2015 Chrysler 200—which he’s brought to the set—to how design is done at Chrysler. And he answers—or doesn’t, in the case of future real and rumored products—questions from the SRT partisans that are sent and called in.
Generally “After Hours” runs for an hour. That wasn’t enough time for this one, so it is pushed for an additional 15 minutes. It’s all worth it.