Hosted by Brooke Burns, MOTOR CITY MASTERS pits 10 talented designers from different parts of the automotive industry against each other each week in the ambitious task of creating new, fully-functional concept cars based around a theme. One by one, designers who fall short will be sent home by the judges until only a single MOTOR CITY MASTER remains. Industry expert judges Jean Jennings and Harald Belker are joined by celebrity guest judges including actress Melissa Joan Hart, actor Jesse Metcalfe, Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz, baseball great David Justice and former NASCAR driver Robby Gordon.
Allow us to introduce you to Mr. Camilo Pardo and his work. Camilo is best known as the primary designer of the mid-2000s Ford GT, the recreation of the legendary Le Mans-winning racer. Like many other designers though, his interests are varied and he is constantly working on a variety of projects that span a wide range of disciplines. Unlike many other designers, he has enjoyed success in the vast majority. He is based in Detroit, Michigan although he has "one foot in Los Angeles." We were able to get a few minutes out of his busy schedule, between shooting a new TV show called Motor City Masters (TruTV, Tuesdays at 10PM beginning on June 24) and meeting with clients, to talk about his interests and career thus far.
Q: How did your passion for painting and vintage cars begin?
A: In New York City–during the late '60s. It was a great time to see contemporary art, pop art, and some of the coolest performance cars the automotive industry has ever made. But it was also in my family. My mother was a painter and my uncles were architects. I was continuously exposed to art and design.
Q: Was it hard starting your career as an automotive artist/designer?
A: Yes. College was very challenging. Fortunately, I landed a good internship and started at Ford when I graduated.
Q: What is your favorite painting subject?
A: Automobiles and figurative (read: women). But I find great pleasure painting almost any subject matter–even the simplest things in life can be captured in a great composition.
Q: What technique do you use for your paintings?
A: I enjoy painting in oil, watercolor, and acrylic. I use aggressive abstraction in my brush strokes to create atmosphere and motion.
Q: Do you own or aspire to own a vintage car (and which one(s))?
A: Currently, I own what's left of the vintage cars that have survived the stages of my life. I aspire to so many more though (this would include production, racing, and concept cars). If I had to get specific–I would have to start with Ferraris–'67 Ferrari 330P4, '79 312t4, '69 512 S Berlinetta Speciale Pininfarina Concept, and the '84 288 GTO.
Q: Do you have an all-time favorite car?
A: Do you want me to recite the list again? It would by like picking your favorite song or painting in the world.
Q: So what is your favorite road and companion?
A: One of my favorite roads is the drive between Torino, Italy and Monaco. If I was driving from Italy, the companion would be a beautiful Italian girl. If I was driving from Monaco, the companion would be a beautiful Monacan girl.
Q: What is your favorite era of motorsport?
A: Easy. The late '60s to present.
Q: As an artist, when you look at a car what do you see?
A: I see a composition of shape and form. It’s very much like anatomy–a functioning sculpture.
Q: Where do you like or would you like to see your art displayed most?
A: The Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Q: Is there a classic that you’d like to redesign for production today?
A: A few: the Shelby Cobra, Ford Thunderbird, Porsche 550 spyder, and the next Ford GT.
Q: You’re best known for the Ford GT, but was this your favorite project? If not, what has been your favorite project (automotive or otherwise)?
A: That was my favorite project. I also worked on concepts for the Thunderbird, and the next Shelby Cobra.
Q: Given the chance to design anything, what would you like to do, that you haven’t yet?
A: I would like to design the next “La Ferrari” or whatever they decide to call it. It's the epitome isn't it?
Los Angeles – April 8, 2014 – The new Carroll Shelby’s Store on Wheels will be among the brightest spots for fans at the official Mustang 50th Birthday Celebration from April 16 – 20, 2014, thanks to a visual treatment by former Ford GT designer and artist Camilo Pardo. Carroll Shelby Licensing, a wholly owned subsidiary of Carroll Shelby International Inc., (CSBI.PK) will debut their “store on wheels” with authorized items for enthusiasts nationwide beginning at Charlotte Motor Speedway, which is where the celebration is being hosted by the Mustang Club of America.
“The hunger for genuine Shelby branded items is extremely strong,” said Neil Cummings, co-CEO of Carroll Shelby International. “Carroll Shelby’s Store on Wheels is our way of feeding that hunger by bringing world-class Shelby products to enthusiasts at key events across the country. From Charlotte to California, Michigan and Texas, we’ll bring the magic of Shelby to the hometowns of the people who love this brand.”
The store will have an incredible breadth and depth of fresh authorized products. From newly designed apparel to memorabilia, special edition “mechanics” shirts exclusive to the store on wheels, an array of stylish hats, legacy items signed by Carroll Shelby and even a line of new women and kids wear, bearing the world famous marque. Most of the stock is unique and not available anywhere else.
“We’re unveiling our new trailer at the Charlotte event and will also be offering exclusive merchandise at the Carroll Shelby’s Store on Wheels program at the MCA’s Las Vegas Motor Speedway location because this event will be the largest showings of Mustang enthusiasts in history,” said Ari Kopmar, executive vice president of Consumer Initiatives for Carroll Shelby International. “In addition to our new Shelby gear, we’re especially excited to unveil the custom trailer created by famous automotive designer and artist, Camilo. He was the chief designer for the Ford GT supercar, possesses a true passion for the sport and had a personal relationship with Carroll Shelby.”
Camilo delivered stunning artwork for the trailer walls that feature a classic portrait of Carroll sporting his famous black Stetson hat, a beautiful candy red Shelby Super Snake, a classic white Cobra and more. The designs are based on originals that he created specifically for Shelby.
“I’ve always been interested in stretching the boundaries to create something that has never been done,” explains Camilo. “My goal for this project was to design graphics for the mobile store that convey the passion and unique heritage of Shelby. The Shelby name stands for unmatched performance, so we created a design that is as iconic as the man, the company and its cars.”
Carroll Shelby’s Store on Wheels encourages those attending the Charlotte 50th Mustang Celebration to visit and express their opinion of the Camilo design. They can enter their name into a kiosk for a drawing to win a personalized Shelby Varsity Jacket. The mobile store will also give any children one of two free temporary Shelby snake tattoos.
Carroll Shelby’s Store on Wheels will appear at various events throughout the year. For information about its stop, visit the Carroll Shelby’s Store website and register to receive news updates.
About Carroll Shelby Licensing
Automotive manufacturer and entrepreneur Carroll Shelby is one of the most famous and successful high performance visionaries in the world. He was also a pioneer for modern automotive licensing programs; beginning in the 1960s, he began licensing his name and designs for various products. He founded Carroll Shelby Licensing Inc., which is the exclusive holder of trademarks and vehicle design rights for some of the most famous muscle cars and high-performance vehicles. CSL also holds trademark rights for Shelby-branded apparel, accessories and collectibles. For more information about the company or licensing opportunities, call (310) 914-1843, fax (310) 538-8189, write Carroll Shelby Licensing, Inc., 19021 S Figueroa St., Gardena, CA 90248, or visit carrollshelby.com,shelbylicensing.com or carrollshelbyinternational.com.
That photo above is Camilo Pardo parking his fifth Ford GT at a Detroit car show last weekend. Before judging the show, I pulled him aside to ask a few questions about how the GT came together.
Pardo works independently around the region after he left Ford a few years back, but still keeps busy in the automotive scene with freelance work and custom-designing GTs. The four he's owned previously were sold to different collectors after being outfitted with new livery and other modifications.
He's working with a few automakers on some confidential projects, but still speaks fondly of the brief production of the GT, which started life as the GT90 concept in 1995 and re-imagined as the GT40 concept in 2002.
"(The GT40 concept) wasn't very much discussed inside Ford. We did it in a satellite studio away from the main design building, and it wasn't until the final stages until we were going to get ready to cast and tune the car for the auto show that it did get exposed to people in the building," Pardo says.P
The concept, always intended to recall the original GT40 of the 1960s, was closely guarded. Ford's intent to push the GT into production wasn't. "It's one of the few cars that I've worked on that did not need to go through Dearborn with camouflage on it," he says.
The GT was eventually slimmed down from the larger GT90. "(The GT90) had left the GT40 way, way too far behind, but it was a very contemporary execution. the only problem I had with it was that the greenhouse was way too big for the body."
What the public won't see is renderings for the GT that were scrapped as development moved along. Pardo has a few left over, but many were thrown away. So yes, it's possible a lucky custodian at Ford is sitting on a goldmine right now of GT sketches.
Pardo's car collection includes a '67 Mustang fastback, an '82 Ferrari 512 ("Ever since I've gotten GTs, I barely drive that," he says) and a newer Fiat 500. But GTs are still his favorite to drive.
"I couldn't be happier to spend so much time designing a vehicle and then actually experiencing it," he says. "It was hours and hours that went into the steering wheels and the seats... and I've got my hands on my steering wheel, I'm in the seats driving for hours and hours across the country, and remembering exactly what went into that part of the vehicle as we designed it."
Pardo wasn't too thrilled with the Galpin Ford GTR1 shown at Pebble Beach last month. "It's a very delicate project. It's something you have to be very well-experienced as a designer to tackle something like that," he says.
But, "I would love to give another shot to the Ford GT to make it a lot more contemporary. I did like what was done with the GT90, it was just still too far for most people to take in."
Ford GT designer Camilo Pardo is a man in high demand. Join us for a visit to his Detroit studio and an insider's look into the life and mind of this talented artist.
By Alex Kierstein 2013 / Photos by Alex Kierstein
This is Camilo Pardo's studio. It's a bit messy, he says. He just had a show in the space.
An artist this busy gets a pass. Pardo works, a lot. The studio was full of commissioned pieces in various states of completion as well as a huge calendar-like reminder of all the to-be-started commissions he needs to crank out in the next few weeks.
If the name sounds familiar, it's because Pardo was the design guy behind the Ford GT that became the domestic-bedroom-poster answer to the F40s and Diablos of the decade preceding it. Pardo directed a team of designers and engineers to bang out the GT on a shoestring. The result was a convoluted development process—or at least, it would have been had Pardo not directed resources shrewdly and used his engineers to hack the normal sketch-to-production process.
But that's beside the point. Pardo is first and foremost an artist in demand, and his building (there's a ballroom upstairs) in downtown Detroit is full of the kind of things that he likes to work with. There's an OG Fiat 500 in a corner with half a chromed mannequin next to it. GTs pose on canvasses with World War II planes. Picturesque painting tables litter the room.
Take a quick spin through Pardo's workspace.
Camilo Pardo is best known in automotive enthusiast circles as the designer of the lustrous 2003 Ford GT. But around Detroit and among car collectors, Pardo is also known for his fine art. Since leaving Ford, Pardo has devoted himself to making new work. His style emulates the period that inspired his renderings of the GT — 1960s motorsports culture infused with bright, seductive imagery of ladies and fast Ferraris, Mustangs and GT40s. He has recently expanded from oil to silkscreens. He will exhibit his work at the Thompson Hotel in Los Angeles on Sept. 17, with proceeds benefitting the Carroll Shelby Foundation. Camilo talks art and life in the fast lane:
On making paintings: The automotive painting is the closest it can get to car design because I’m actually rendering. I’m making the cars look as believable as I can with the medium, that’s what we do with automotive design — we’re rendering new ideas. I did try one painting that’s called “Desert Races” and I designed flying retro cars in oil on canvas. If I do more that it would be more like designing at Ford.
On his new work: Silkscreen is so pop art — taking dynamic image stills where there’s a dot matrix or linear matrix, composition of color and the surface you use. It’s very graphic, fine art. It’s fun to look at. People were entertained by it and it took everything in a completely different direction. It’s a layering of images. The layering is the clever bit — it’s a background color and a graphic and a silkscreen on top and now you have four color processes. I’ll generate it from a one image screen and the actual material you’re using is falling and is on part of the composition. All of it together it becomes quite a personality and now it’s turned into a whole new identity.
On the road to Los Angeles: I drove from Detroit to Utah for a road course rally where they auctioned a few of my paintings at theUtah Fast Pass. We meet up with Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Porsches, and Ford GTS at Miller Motorsports Park, and then there’s a big dinner. The money is used to help Utah Highway Patrol. They treat us like royalty with police blocking intersections. Then I drove toPebble Beach and the AFAS (Automotive Fine Art Society) and Laguna Seca and then partied in Carmel, and then went to the Concours. We did this in the Ford GT. We had to go back to Utah to go back to Miller to do the national Ford GT rally which is two track days and then drive in the canyon. I sold prints and paintings at both functions. It’s all about selling my art. Then we went to Vegas and now we’re off to the Fuel Injected show at the top of the Thompson in Beverly Hills.