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François Castaing named to Automotive Hall of Fame

by Bill Cawthon on

François Castaing, 65, is one of eight automotive leaders and pioneers to be named to the Automotive Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will be held on October 12 at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center located at 15801 Michigan Avenue in Dearborn, Michigan

A brilliant engineer, Castaing is credited as one of the key people in Chrysler’s turnaround in the late 1980s. After graduating from École Nationale Supérieure d’Arts et Métiers in Paris, Castaing went to work for Gordini as a race engineer. From there he went to Renault, then to AMC and finally to Chrysler, where be became vice president of engineering after Chrysler’s acquisition of AMC in 1987. One of his primary contributions was the platform approach to vehicle development, which allowed for the simultaneous development of various vehicle systems. This substantially cut the cost and time required to develop new vehicles. The Chrysler LH sedans of the 1990s were created by Castaing’s platform teams.

Castaing retired from Chrysler in 2000, one of the key executives who departed after the Daimler merger. In 1998, before leaving Chrysler, Castaing became chairman of the New Detroit Science Center. Under his leadership, a $30 million capital campaign was completed, allowing for the expansion and renovation of the Detroit Science Center. A much-improved Center reopened to the public three years later. Castaing continues to promote science and engineering education. Castaing also serves as a director on several boards including TRW Automotive.

Castaing, 65, is the only living member of the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2010. The other inductees are: Lewis Crosley and Powel Crosley Jr., who developed the little Crosley car and founded Crosley Corp.; Howard “Dutch” Darrin, who designed a number of famous European and American automobiles including the Kaiser Darrin; Edward “Ned” Jordan, an automotive pioneer, innovative marketer and founder of the Jordan Car Co.; Henry Kaiser and Joseph Frazer, American industrialists, co-creators of the Kaiser-Frazer Corp. and former owners of Jeep; George Schuster, who drove a Thomas Flyer to victory in the 1908 New York-to-Paris Automobile Race.

Mr Castaing joins other Chrysler inductees including Hal Sperlich (2009), Virgil Exner (1995), Lee Iacocca (1994), Horace Dodge (1981), John Dodge (1997), Fred Zeder (1998), K.T. Keller (1971), and, of course, Walter P. Chrysler (1967)

To read Allpar’s 1992 interview with François Castaing, click here.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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