A brief history up to 1989
A course at the Royal College of Art was Peter Stevens' springboard into car styling. His time at the RCA coincided with Ford funding the establishment of a proper post-graduate transport design course, and Stevens became one of its first two students. To an extent he helped to devise the course, suggesting who should give lectures and what equipment was needed.
From the RCA he joined Ford's design studios at Dunton in 1969, spending most of his three years there on car and van interiors. He played a large part in styling the original Granada's cabin, as well as getting involved with the Escort Mexico and Mk3 Capri. Faced with the prospect of a junior management post which looked like locking him into a career with Ford, he decided to become a freelance designer, helped by an offer of regular work with Tom Karen at Ogle Design.
"I also took one day's teaching at the RCA," he says, "which I found very stimulating. It was useful to keep in touch by bouncing ideas around, and I enjoyed it so much that I kept up the connection until only a few years ago."
Working as a freelance until he joined Lotus full-time, Stevens has handled a huge variety of projects.
Among his clients have been ERF trucks (he styled the current cab), Cougar Marine (designing catamarans and helping on the Virgin Atlantic Challenger), Brabham-BMW (Gordon Murray, now with McLaren, is a good friend), Alpine-Renault (in partnership with Trever Fiore on the A310 and the old-shape R5 Alpine/Gordini), Richard Lloyed Racing (all the way from Group 1 Chevrolet Camaro to re-bodied Group C Porsche 962), the World Bank (a still-born tractor) and Tom Walkinshaw Racing (on Mazdas and Jaguars).
Growing freelance commitments with Lotus led to a full-time job at Hethel four years ago. The link was made in 1982, just a week after Colin Chapman's death, when Colin Spooner invited him to work on the Excel styling update. "He saw that n immediate programme would be good to get the place moving again, and that was the impetus behind the Excel update," says Stevens. "But to my lasting disappointment, I never had the opportunity to work for Chapman."