The Detroit Concours d’Elegance to host Ralph Gilles – Chief Design Officer, Stellantis – at a roundtable discussion with leaders of the car world

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With the Detroit Concours d’Elegance festivities taking place September 17 – 18, 2022, the Motor City will be packed with immersive automotive experiences including a party Saturday night featuring a roundtable discussion with leaders of the car world. The Motor City Party will be held at the College for Creative Studies from 6:30pm-10:00pm. One of the panelists speaking about the future of the automobile industry will be Ralph Gilles.

Mr. Gilles is the Chief Design Officer for Stellantis who has spent 30 years with the brand and its predecessor companies (FCA, Chrysler). He was instrumental in bringing the Dodge Viper back into production and also getting it to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. His design successes include vehicles like the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Chrysler 300C, and Ram Truck to name a few of his creations. Gilles has served as the head of the SRT performance division, the Dodge brand, and Dodge motorsports. Currently he oversees styling for all Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, and Maserati vehicles. He also happens to be a car enthusiast, amateur racing driver, and collector of cars. He graduated from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit and has an MBA from Michigan State University.

Ralph Gilles started drawing his own car designs at age eight. In college he sent a design to Lee Iacocca who liked what he saw and asked him to reach out once he graduated which eventually led to his career starting with Chrysler as a designer in 1992.

2013 SRT Viper GTS World Debut
Labor of love. Ralph Gilles, then SRT brand president, shows his affection for the 2013 SRT Viper. After a two-year absence from the product line, the new Viper debuted at the New York auto show in 2012. Joe Wilssens/Courtesy Ralph Gilles

Gilles is excited about the future of car designs as he shared on the Hagerty podcast, The Love of Cars. “The formula and rules for car design keeps changing. People keep writing off performance cars in this industry, but we’ve never had more cool choices than we do now. From the Hellcat to the Mach E to the Wrangler. There are some really cool unique looking vehicles available.” For Gilles, it’s a lot more than looking at the competition to get ideas, he says he likes to study culture itself. “Every decent designer needs to also be a bit of an anthropologist. I want to understand the culture and where does it want to go. We need to anticipate the needs in the future. When we design, we are working four years ahead of production. If you look at your competition and design for the moment, then what happens if that fad is gone?” He likes to spend time at Cars and Coffees and other car shows to have an ear to ground and hear what makes people tick. “I like to listen to car lovers, they kind of set the tone for everybody else.” As far as where the auto industry is going, Gilles says it is an exciting time for designers. Without radiators and exhausts to think about, designers can really be creative. “When it comes to electric cars, we can actually start shifting proportions of the cars. All the early electric cars were adapted cars. But when we start making dedicated electric cars, you can make the cars more efficient, and also cooler looking. It’s on us as the industry to make it cool.”

If you’d like to hear from Ralph Gilles and how he’s going to help push Stellantis into the future, join Hagerty at the Motor City Party where he will be a panelist. Other panelists include McKeel Hagerty CEO, Hagerty; Hau Thai-Tang Chief Product Platform and Operations Officer, Ford; and Doug L Parks Executive Vice President, General Motors. They will discuss the future of the automobile industry and what they’re doing to keep driving alive. The party will also pay tribute to our 2022 Honoree, Ed Welburn, a designer, Automotive Hall of Fame inductee, and former General Motors Vice President of Global Design.

About the Motor City Party

The party will provide a uniquely Detroit experience, including skyline views from the original office of Harley Earl on 11th floor of this iconic Art Deco building, an open bar and roving gourmet dinner. Tickets are $275 and attendees must be over 21+. Hagerty Drivers Club members save 20%. The automobile industry is transitioning to a different future. To hear what this means for those who love to drive, come hear this lively discussion from several top auto executives who are leading this change and are also rabid driving and car enthusiasts.

For more information and tickets visit https://detroitconcours.com/

Tickets for the Detroit Concours weekend available now

Tickets and ticket packages for the inaugural Detroit Concours weekend, September 17-18, 2022, are available online.

Saturday’s Cars & Community is a family-friendly celebration of the automobile in the parking areas adjacent to Comerica Park. Cars & Community features three unique shows in one: RADwood, a celebration of 1980s and 1990s lifestyle, blending period correct dress with automotive awesomeness; Concours d’Lemons, a motoring festival designed to celebrate the oddball, mundane and unexceptional of the automotive world; and Cars & Caffeine, designed as a curated showcase for local car clubs. Youth will enjoy spending time in the Kids Zone, featuring racing simulators and more.

Saturday night is the Motor City Party celebrating 2022 Honoree, Ed Welburn.

Sunday’s Detroit Concours d’Elegance features 140 historically significant vehicles displayed on the lawns surrounding the Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit-inspired featured classes include the Cars of Harley Earl, Detroit Autorama and the Cars of Woodward Ave. Built upon the Concours d’Elegance of America’s four decades of excellence, the reimagined event will place participants right in the middle of the thriving design, music, and sporting heart of Detroit. Hagerty is proud to invest in downtown Detroit, just blocks from where so much of car culture was forged.

Detroit concours d'elegance black and white logo

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