Call it an upgrade: Bentley’s new chief designer David Hilton joins the British institution, after moving on up from Ford, Mazda, and even Volkswagen, Bentley’s gatekeepers. Upgrade? Or simply moving down the hall?
Either way, Hilton comes to Bentley as its new Head of Exterior Design with an impressive resume. After he graduated from the University of Cincinnati and the College for Creative Studies he went to Ford, skipping between Detroit, Germany, and Britain with his role at Ford Racing. It was in Britain where he designed the 2002 Focus RS and ST, two models widely regarded as cult classics.
A stint at Mazda in Japan and Volkswagen of Brazil gave Hilton even more international experience, but since 2000 Hilton’s been running his own show at his design firm Motorcity Europe. The company lists Jaguar, Fiat, Peugeot, and McLaren as clients.
“I am thrilled to be joining Bentley at this exciting time,” said Hilton. “Bentley has a distinctive design language which reflects the history and heritage of the brand but remains relevant to today’s high luxury customers. I hope I can draw on the passion that I know everyone associated with the marque shares, and help shape the design of the next generation of Bentleys.”
Hilton replaces former designer Raul Pires, which won’t be an easy task. Pires was instrumental in taking Bentley out of its antiquated, boxy phase of rebadged Rolls-Royces when he penned the curvaceous Continental GT in 2003. Pires moves to greener pastures with the legendary design studio Italdesign, which VW also owns.
Lest you think Hilton won’t be up to the job of creating a more exciting Bentley himself, witness the MC1, a sleek, slinky supercar concept that exhibits the best of Hilton’s talents. The “world’s fastest lorries” don’t have to look like lorries.
Sources: Bentley, New York Times