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Exclusive: Frank Stephenson to become Design Director at McLaren

Wed, 06 Aug 2008

Thanks to our contacts in the automotive design community, we've become aware that Frank Stephenson, who until recently was Director of Design at Alfa Romeo, will be taking on a new role as Design Director at McLaren.

"McLaren is pleased to confirm that Frank Stephenson will shortly join as Design Director," a company spokesperson told CDN, but would not reveal additional details. Stephenson was not prepared to comment.

It is presumed that Stephenson, who has worked on such acclaimed designs as the reinterpretation of the legendary Mini in 2001, will be based at the company's facilities in Woking, Surrey, and be charged with building a design team for the sports car manufacturer.

The first road car produced by McLaren was the F1 supercar - designed by Gordon Murray and Peter Stevens - and the company also created the SLR McLaren for Mercedes-Benz. McLaren Cars is now aiming to create a competitor to Ferrari, Aston Martin and Porsche and become a serious player in the high-end sports car market.

Following his studies at Art Center College of Design, Stephenson spent 11 years at BMW before joining the Ferrari-Maserati Group as Concept Design Director in 2002. During his time at the Fiat-owned sports car division, Stephenson worked on the Maserati MC12 and Ferrari F430 and oversaw Pininfarina's work on the Maserati Quattroporte and Ferrari 612 Scaglietti.

Stephenson became head of Fiat, Lancia and Light Commercial Vehicle Styling Center in 2005 and led the team that produced the reinterpetation of Fiat's iconic minicar, the Nuova 500.

Appointed Design Director at Alfa Romeo in June 2007 - following Wolfgang Egger's departure for Audi - Stephenson was subsequently replaced by Christopher Reitz in March 2008. Details surrounding the Moroccan-born designer's departure from the Italian company still remain unclear.

By Eric Gallina