Designed For Performance

Black auto designers set the standard for some of the most popular--and stylish--cars on the road

Pennsylvania native.

Title: Digital designer
Company: Nissan
Latest Project: Exterior design for the 2005 Xterra
In the past, new car models were sculpted out of clay, but computers are radically changing the way new designs are crafted. The task is now being performed digitally, spawning the job title digital designer, which is Shon Jones’ position at Nissan in Lajolla, California. Originally from suburban Detroit, Jones is the only black member of a design staff of about 50.

“This whole digital realm is still in its baby stages,” said Jones. “Besides being able to build three-dimensional car models, I also do renderings and I do animation.” After graduating from high school, Jones attended a three-year, GM-sponsored program that taught him how to make clay car models, as well as how to draft cars using pencil and paper and computers.

He worked for GM for 14 years and has assisted in the design of practically every vehicle GM currently has on the road. Feeling a desire to improve his career opportunities, he left to join the Lear Corp., where he designed automotive interiors. Jones then moved to Nissan in November 2000, turning down offers from Volvo, Jaguar, and GM in the process.

“I literally love what I do; I’d do it for free,” says Jones.

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