Camaro Designer Moves to VW and SoCal

By Brendan Moore


Sangyup LeeThe GM designer that created the exterior design of the new Camaro has left Detroit and GM and will now ply his trade in Santa Monica at VW’s Southern California design studio.

It was probably tough to leave Detroit in winter, but Sangyup Lee will now be designing Volkswagens and Audis at the same studio that was responsible for the Audi TT concept cars and the VW New Beetle.

Mr. Lee grew up in Korea, graduated with a degree in fine art from Hongik University in Seoul, where he also studied sculpture, subsequently discovered car design at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA, worked at Porsche for awhile, and then, was at GM for almost ten years. He was partially responsible for the stunning Buick Velite concept car and the Corvette Sting Ray concept.

Lee will start at his new position as Chief Designer of Exterior at the Volkswagen/Audi Advanced studio in mid-2010. He will report to the new head of that studio, Jens Manske, who was appointed Executive Director earlier this year after Derek Jenkins bolted for Mazda.

So, VW now owns Porsche, where Lee used to work, and he’s going to be working in Santa Monica, which is just a short hop away from Pasadena, where he used to go to school. Guess it will be almost like old home week for Lee when he starts his new job.

It’s probably not good news for GM, but they do seem to have a lot of very talented young designers at the company, so maybe he will not be missed too much for too long. VW has to be very happy to get a designer of his caliber, and it will be interesting to see what sort of impact he’ll have on future Volkswagens and Audis.

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Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at

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  1. Always tough to leave Detroit in winter, it is just like it’s own little paradise.

  2. Not the first one to leave, there was some prededents like Jerry Hirshberg who headed the design of Nissan North America, Ed Anderson who’ll work at Nash and AMC and….Virgil Exner Sr. who beginned to work at Pontiac in the late 1930s before he moved to Studebaker and Chrysler after a clash and rivalry with Raymond Loewy. Exner menaged to show to his “teacher” Harley Earl then the student could surpass the master with the “Forward look”

    Also, Georges Walker hired some staffs from GM when he supervised the design of the 1949 Ford. Others a brief stint in GM like…Dick Teague who was hired at AMC and followed his boss Ed Anderson

    It happen also on other companies, Laurens van den Acker who worked at Ford and was at the head of Mazda design department replaced Patrick Le Quement who retired at the head of design at Renault. One day GM or even Chrysler could attract someone from VW 😉

  3. I like the Camaro, but I don’t love the Camaro. The lines are too heavy in some spots and the slab sides don’t impress.

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