Tom Tjaarda (July 23, 1934 – June 2, 2017) was an automobile designer noted for his work on a broad range of automobiles — estimated at over eighty[1] — from exotic sports cars including the Ferrari 365 California, De Tomaso Pantera and Aston Martin Lagonda Coupé to high-volume popular cars including the first generation Ford Fiesta (1972) and the Fiat 124 Spider (1966).

Stevens Thompson Tjaarda van Starkenburg
Born(1934-07-23)July 23, 1934
DiedJune 2, 2017(2017-06-02) (aged 82)
Turin, Italy
NationalityUnited States
EducationUniversity of Michigan
Engineering career
DisciplineCar designer
Practice nameTom Tjaarda
ProjectsChevrolet Corvette Rondine
Ferrari 365 California
Fiat 124 Spider Pininfarina
De Tomaso Pantera Ghia
Williams De Tomaso-Ford (Cosworth) 505/38(De Tomaso Formula 1)
De Tomaso Longchamp
Chrysler LeBaron
Rayton-Fissore Magnum 4x4
Aston Martin Lagonda Coupé
Lamborghini Diablo (Interior)
Spyker GT Sport
Shelby Series 2

For his work, Tjaarda was honored at the 1997 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance as well as the 1997 Concorso Italiano.[2]

Jalopnik called Tjaarda "one of the defining automotive designers of the 20th century."[3] Noted automotive designer and journalist Robert Cumberford called Tjaarda "one of the world’s most accomplished Italian car designers."[4] Car Design News called him "one of the great unsung heroes of the car design world."[5]


Born in Detroit, Tjaarda was the son of Irene Tjaarda[6] and Dutch-American auto designer John Tjaarda (born Joop Tjaarda van Starkenburg, 1897–1962), designer of the 1935 Lincoln Zephyr.

Tjaarda's parents divorced in 1939 and he lived with his mother in Detroit. Tjaarda studied high school in Birmingham High School, Birmingham, Michigan (1953 renamed to Seaholm High School).


Tjaarda studied Architecture at the University of Michigan and presented an automobile (a sport station wagon)[6] rather than building design for his senior thesis — winning an internship at Carrozzeria Ghia, the renowned Italian design house.[1] In 1958, he moved to Turin, Italy, where his career began and where he continued to live and work.

Tjaarda started his career at Ghia with the Innocenti 950.

By 1961 had moved to Pininfarina, where he went on to work on designs that included the Chevrolet Corvette Rondine, the Ferrari 330GT 2+2, the Fiat 124 Spider, and the Ferrari 365 California.[7]

He later returned to Ghia, where he designed the Isuzu Bellett MX1600, the De Tomaso Pantera, and the De Tomaso Longchamp.

In 1981, Tom was appointed as Director of Fiat Advanced Studios. In 1984, he started his own independent design firm, Dimensione Design.[8][9]

Design portfolioEdit

Innocenti 950 S Ghia Spider 950
1963 Corvette Rondine
Ferrari 330 GT 2+2
Fiat 124 Spider, 1,4 l, 1970
1972 DeTomaso Pantera and Liv Lindeland
1974 Ford Maverick
1978 Ford Fiesta L MKI
Autobianchi Y10
1993 Saab 900 Turbo 5-door hatchback


  1. ^ a b Mark Vaughn (June 5, 2017). "Automotive designer Tom Tjaarda: 1934-2017 He's the man behind some of your favorite cars". Motorweek.
  2. ^ Kevin A. Wilson. "Tom Tjaarda 1934–2017: A Life in Design". Car and Driver.
  3. ^ Jason Torchinsky (June 2, 2017). "Take A Moment To Thank Tom Tjaarda For Designing So Many Beautiful Cars". Jalopnik.
  4. ^ Robert Cumberford (June 2, 2017). "A Tribute to the Late Tom Tjaarda; A fantasy lived". Automobile Magazine.
  5. ^ Chris Rees (June 5, 2017). "Tom Tjaarda A Tribute". Car Design News.
  6. ^ a b Kurt Ernst (June 5, 2017). "Prolific automotive designer Tom Tjaarda dead at age 82". Hemmings.
  7. ^ "Tom Tjaarda - Cars". Retrieved 17 December 2019.
  8. ^ Cumberford, Robert (May 30, 2017). "Tom Tjaarda: A Fantasy Lived". Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  9. ^ "A little history of Pininfarina and Tom Tjaarda". Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  10. ^ Thorson, Thor (May 2016). "1975 Fiat-Abarth 124 Sport Rally Group 4 Spider". Sports Car Market. 28 (5): 70–71.
  11. ^ "1969 GHIA LANCIA FULVIA COMPETIZIONE". (in Italian). Retrieved 17 December 2019.

External linksEdit