We are in May, worker's month in South Africa, when we celebrate and honour the workers that keep the wheels turning. In case you didn’t know, South African designers are working all over the globe creating some of the most celebrated and iconic motor vehicles.
Rory Byrne is a South African semi-retired engineer and car designer, most famous for being the chief designer at the Benetton and Scuderia Ferrari Formula One teams. He graduated from Wits University in 1964, worked as a chemist, finished his first car design in 1972 and then relocated to England to pursue a career in racing car design.
Byrne-designed cars have won ninety nine Grand Prix, seven constructors' titles and seven drivers' titles. This makes Byrne the third most successful Formula One designer, behind rivals Adrian Newey and Colin Chapman.
Pierre Terblanche, famed for his motorcycle designs, was born in South Africa in 1956 and studied design in Port Elizabeth. He began his career in advertising working on the Ford Motor account with Young & Rubicam in Cape Town. In 1989, Mr. Terblanche traded four wheels for two and joined Ducati Rimini, where he worked for two years with Massimo Tamburini on the Paso restyling and the Ducati 888. In 1992, he moved to Morazzone Varese, Italy and the Cagiva Design Center, where he created the landmark Ducati Supermono and the Cagiva 600 Enduro, also known as the “Canyon.” The Supermono became one of the most important motorcycle designs of the modern era, and is the inspiration for the powerhouse Superbike winner, the 916.
Last year in November, Terblanche joined Royal Enfield in England as Design Director.
This Prieska-born Designer graduated from Cape Town Technikon with a degree in graphic design. She is now the lead interior designer for the VW Group, and has designed for Porsche, then Audi and now Volkswagen. Most new Volkswagens sport interiors have benefited from Oona’s involvement, including the Polo and Amarok, but the car she is most likely to be remembered for is the Porsche Carrera GT with its minimalist but exquisitely detailed interior, including a wooden gearknob – a nostalgic nod to the firm’s 1970 917 Le Mans racers.