"At the time, there wasn't that much focus on advanced design,"Palmer said. "Designers were down on themselves and didn't feel like they were making big contributions to the organization. I am proud to say that by encouraging teamwork and out-of-the-box thinking, we helped make advanced design the place to be. It was amazing how many breakthrough designs emerged as sculptors, engineers and designers worked in an enthusiastic environment to make it happen.
"Of course, I'm only one among hundreds of people who played a part in GM's success. But it's fulfilling to see cars and trucks that we were involved with out on the road—to know all of the stories involved to bring them to the market brings back memories."
Palmer was involved in every Corvette design from 1974 until his retirement in 2002, including the all-new Corvette C-6.
While he was a student, Palmer witnessed tremendous changes at CCS. The Yamasaki Building had recently been built and Homer LaGassey helped establish the College's reputation as a design powerhouse among those in transportation design. Palmer was the first graduate of the program to be hired by GM as an exterior designer.
"Because of CCS, I knew what to expect in the real world,"said Palmer. "The quality of preparation was excellent back then, and the caliber of designers the school turns out now is remarkable. The experiences, expectations and professionalism of the faculty has led to the college's ability to produce some of the foremost designers in the world.”
Although Palmer has retired, he and his wife of 40 years, Rita, continue to immerse themselves in high-paced activities at his home near Lake Leelanau. They enjoy cruising in his '32 Ford Highboy roadster, a lot of boating (sail, power, ice), collecting antique tractors, motorcycling, downhill skiing, snowmobiling, golf and model railroading. He still loves hot designs; designs that turn him on.
"I had a great career,"said Palmer. "I've worked with some extremely talented people from all disciplines and was fortunate to have had some great mentors both at CCS and at General Motors.”
- Graduation Year: 1966
- Major: Transportation Design
- Employer: General Motors
- Title: Executive Director of Design
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