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The celebrated stylist and designer of the Fiat 124 Sport Spider :


( January 2004 )

John McElroy, a wellknown American car expert and journalist, interviews
here for AUTOLINE DETROIT RADIO: Tom Tjaarda.

His introduction for this interview runs:
"  Tom Tjaarda is an American who spent his 45-year career in automotive design primarily in Italy. He has worked for some of the most famous design studios of Europe and produced an amazing portfolio of cars, perhaps most famously the DeTomaso Pantera. Although he celebrated his 70th birthday last year he has a keen eye for what makes design work, and as you're about to hear, he has a very interesting background ".

Click the image below to listen in as AutoLine's John McElroy presents Tom Tjaarda.

Interview with Tom Tjaarda dated Januari 5, 2004


Tom Tjaarda as a member of the jury at the Concours d'Elegance 2003
located at the Royal Palace Het Loo in Apeldoorn, Netherlands


Tom Tjaarda was born on July 23, 1934. The son of John Tjaarda, a noted stylist whose creations included the streamlined Lincoln Zephyr of the 1930's. From Tom's youth it was obvious to those around him that he would one day become a superlative designer.

While majoring in Architecture at the University of Michigan, a professor in industrial design gave Tom the assignment of constructing a scale model of a sports station wagon. Upon seeing his student's finished project, the professor was so impressed that he showed it to his friend, Luigi Segre, the then, head of Carrozzeria Ghia of Turin, Italy.
Segre immediately offered Tjaarda a job and, as they say, the rest is history. After moving to Turin, over the next two years, Tjaarda designed several production cars, prototypes and show cars.

After spending a year working on the city of Turin's Italia '61 Design Exhibition, Tjaarda was subsequently hired by the famed coach building firm, Pininfarina.
Here, several production cars and prototypes were his designs, including two Ferraris, the Fiat 124 Spider, a Lancia, a Mercedes-Benz and the one-off show car, the Corvette Rondine.
In 1965, Tom was hired by OSI-Fergat, where he was involved in the production of automotive stampings and wheels. When Giorgetto Giugiaro left Carrozzeria Ghia in 1967, Tom soon found himself back with his former employer, now as head of design. For the next eight years, he was the styling force behind numerous, memorable Ghia designs, including two of its most famous; the sleek, mid-engined DeTomaso Pantera and the Ford Fiesta economy car.

By the mid-1970's, Tom had caught the eye of the styling executives at Fiat. In 1977, Italy's largest automotive concern hired him to run their Advanced Design Studio. Here, he oversaw the Tipo 4 proposals, the Lancia Thema, Fiat Croma, and others.
Rayton Fissore became his new home in 1980. Besides working with Chrysler in Detroit and Citroen of France, Tom put his stamp on the off-road, sport-ute market in 1985 with the Rayton Fissore Magnum 4X4, a vehicle that remained in production well into the 1990's.

In the mid-1980's, Tom left Rayton Fissore and formed his own company, Dimensione Design, now known as Tjaarda Design. By properly utilizing his talents and those of a small, hand-picked group of Turin's top, sub-contractors, for the past number of years, Tjaarda Design has been able to offer manufacturers an intelligent, cost effective alternative in the study and production of design ideas, prototypes and production cars.

Tom Tjaarda's design: the Fiat 124 Sport Spider
1969: the Fiat 124 Sport Spider BS as designed by Tom Tjaarda
- click the image for more pictures -


"Quickly and efficiently responding to a client's desires is key in today's rapidly changing global marketplace"
Located in the heart of Turin, capital to Italy's styling industry, Tjaarda Design was originally formed in 1986 under the name of Dimensione Design. Since its inception, the firm has worked with some of the automotive world's most famous and respected names, from all market sectors. Included are mass manufacturers such as Chrysler, Saab and Fiat Iveco. Niche market and performance clients include Aston Martin, Bugatti and Bitter. Off-road/Sport-ute studies were done for LaForza and Sermac, while other clients have ranged from America's ASC Incorporated and PPG to Zastava and Piaggio. All were given timely, cost-effective solutions to their targeted market and design queries.

How is Tjaarda Design able to accomplish this, when production costs seem to spiral continuously upward? Simply, Tom Tjaarda has long maintained that a tightly-knit group of talented designers and craftsmen could best serve the global automotive community, thus displaying a "lean and mean" attitude similar to that found today in numerous American corporate entities in this era of downsized corporate structures. Such an approach allows Tjaarda Design to quickly respond to markets that undergo changes or suddenly open and develop at a rapid rate. Additionally, for mature markets such as North America, Europe and Japan, studies and production of high performance motorcars, sport-utes and other niche vehicles have remained a cost-effective reality at Tjaarda Design.

At the center of the firm is Tom Tjaarda himself.
The wealth of knowledge he has accumulated during boom and bust periods of the business cycle over the past four decades has allowed him to survive and prosper in all business climates by being particularly responsive to an individual manufacturer's needs and requirements. Tjaarda's lengthy experience in Turin has also led to a tight association with several hand-picked subcontractors who understand manufacturing deadlines and budgets. This allows Tjaarda Design to act incisively as a sounding board for design studies, develop scale and 1:1 models, design and build running prototypes, or oversee the production of limited production and niche vehicles.

© Copyright Anthony Westen

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of Anthony Westen - The Netherlands.

Click this legendary Ferrari 365 California Spider - design: Tom Tjaarda -
for more specific details of this unique vehicle, from which only 14 cars were built.

More specific information about:

         1. the history of the Ferrari 365 California Spider
           2. the buyers of these 14 rare and unique vehicles
3. a market report ( old and present value )
                     4. a small presentation of Ferrari 365 California Spiders

logo Tom Tjaarda