The development of the Jeep Grand Cherokee design

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The evolution of an American icon to a new classic design

American Motors was developing new design directions for its highly successful and iconic compact Cherokee Jeep models. Shown are the proposals from the early 1980s prepared by Milton J. Antonick, designer at AMC.

Photographs of the drawings on this page
copyright by Christopher Ziemnowicz
All rights reserved


Proposal for a new compact Chrerokee 2-door. Drawing by Milton Antonick, AMC designer

AMC's Jeep Program -- Theme rendered as a pick up truck

The compact Cherokee models were available in 2-door and 4-door versions, as well as serving as the platform for the compact Comanche pick-up trucks. Therefore, AMC's original plan called for direct replacements of their groundbreaking designs that were first introduced for the 1983 model year. The sketch on the left calls for the continuation of the solid unitized body with load box design. This contrasts to simply bolting a separate body and cargo box to frame that was used by Jeep's competitors.

Although intended as ideas for the future Cherokee replacement, the sketch on the right -- by Antonick from the early 1980's -- clearly shows major elements such as the front fenders, headlamps, the hood-cowl-windshield relationship, as well as the lower body side cladding and front bumper that eventually evolved into an additional Jeep model, the 1993 Grand Cherokee.
It is interesting to note that the basic designs lines of the future Jeep brand vehicle are clearly shown in this drawing, while at the same time the grille sports a car-like front with a Renault diamond logo in the center. It was wise that the AMC designers incorporated the "traditional" Jeep slotted grille openings!

Jeep Program -- "Trying to get a gutty, bouncy look - establish a theme"

About Milton Antonick ... from the show brochure --

Milton J. Antonick, who has spent 23 years employed with automobile styling studios, has mounted the first art exhibition at Concord College featuring an automotive and industrial designer. Antonick is currently vice president of William Schmidt Associates in Michigan.
He opened eyes in Detroit first in 1955 as he won first place in the Fisher Body Craftsmans Guild Automobile Design Contest. He was involved in the initial design for the Avanti, a trend-setting auto in the Corvette-Thunderbird tradition, manufactured by Studebaker in the early 1960's.
In his career with Studebaker, Chrysler, and American Motors, he participated in design for the Studebaker Lark and Hawk, Plymouth Valiant and Barracuda, Dodge trucks, the Chrysler mini-van, Grand Cherokee, a Nissan-Ford mini-van, and Beijing Jeep. In recent years he has forged the ideas for a number of European tractors and items of farm equipment, as well as auto bodies.
He has spent 12 years designing transportation and farm equipment in the United States, Europe, and Asia. He has also helped plan and design a Detroit-based concept center that is based on CAD (computer aided design).
After earning an associate degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Dayton, he attended one of the most important transportation design schools in the world, the Art Center of Design in Los Angeles, from which he received a B.A. in 1959.

Art Show
October 1 - 22, 1995
at Concord College
Athens, West Virginia
Show organized by:
Professor Jim Coiner
Commercial Art Department

During his presentation at Concord, Mr. Antonick also shared pictures from his collection of the 1985 "X-59" clay model. This was to be the two-door companion to the full-size Premier sedan. According to Milt Antonick the complete coupe program was an in-house AMC, Michigan-based design. The model has no Renault logos.

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Jeep XJC image on left is from the article: Design Debate - Who's the father of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, by Al Rothenberg in Ward's Auto World, March 1998.

The Al Rothenberg article provides a story of alleged deceit, insult, intrigue, and fraud surrounding the design ideas that were proposed by Shinoda.

Click here for the article

However, it is clear that the basic design for the Cherokee replacement was under way by AMC's in-house designers as illustrated by the drawings shown above done by Mr. Antonick.

Larry Shinoda

Above is an image of a full-size clay model made in 1985 for AMC by Larry Shinoda, a noted automotive designer. He was a Los Angles, California native. Shinoda went to work for Ford in 1955 after being kicked out of the Art Center College of Design in Los Angles for being in Larry's words "a malcontent". He then worked with GM design chief Bill Mitchell and Corvette chief engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov on the groundbreaking 1963 Corvette Sting Ray coupe, a performance and benchmark styling. Mr. Shinoda complained he was underpaid by GM. In 1968, Semon E. (Bunkie) Knudsen brought Mr. Shinoda to Ford. His other achievements include developing the name and graphics "Boss" for the Ford Mustang. When Knudsen was fired from the presidency of Ford by Henry Ford II, Shinoda was ousted the following day. He is however credited for the 1970-1973 Mustang designs. Shinoda followed his mentor to White Motor Co. Mr. Shinoda was design vice president until the company's fortunes turned sour. Even many years later Shinoda claimed that White, taken over by Sweden's Volvo, owed him salary money. Shinoda later opened an independent design firm. He was one of three designers under contract with AMC to create and build a clay model of the vehicle then known as XJC. The others were Adam Clenet of Santa Barbara, CA, and Giorgetto Giugiaro of ItalDesign in Turin, Italy.

The dream car "Jeep Concept 1" touring the auto show circuits starting in 1989 was very close to the Grand Cherokee production version.
When I saw it at the Albany, NY show, it was clear that AMC designers had their signature all over this Cherokee to be.
This show car is steeped in "heritage" Jeep design.
Click here for a very large image (840k 2600x1600 pixels)

The 1993 Grand Cherokee was the first vehicle developed by Chrysler under a new product development process. The next page reviews the change at Chrysler's to platform teams as a result of its purchase of American Motors Corporation.

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Top of pageby chrisz at concord edu