Richard Teague (1923 – 1991)
He was a Little Rascal from Los Angeles. As a child, he acted in the Our Gang comedies as Dixie Duval.
He was raised on hot rods, around guys like Ed Iskendarian and Stu Hilborn. In ‘42, he worked briefly at Northrup Aircraft before Frank Hershey brought him to GM’s “Planet 8” Body Plant?”
His background wasn’t unusual for a designer, but many of Richard Teague’s designs were. The Rocket 88 hood ornament initiated Teague’s design career, which would last nearly fifty years.
In ‘54, Teague joined Hershey at Packard, but then” Hershey left for Ford, and Teague inherited his friend’s title as chief stylist. Stylish cars like Teague’s Caribbean
Convertible were meant to bring back Packard’s glory days. The glamorous, robust car is still highly regarded, but it was among the last “full-blooded” Packard’s.
After 1957, Teague was baffled by the freshly-merged “Studepackard”, and moved to Chrysler, where he spent 18 frustrating months, before landing at AMC in ‘59 as Assistant Director of Styling.
Teague wanted the Marlin to be a smaller car. 1964’s “Tarpon” show car was based on the Rambler American and aimed at the Mustang demographic. But AMC president Roy Abernethy was a big man who liked Roy-sized cars. Teague felt the resulting Marlin looked awkward as a 6-passenger car, but realized its potential as a V8.
The first Rambler had been a success, but it was quickly imitated and surpassed by larger companies. AMC would need to be innovative to compete, and Teague knew it.
His attempts at this included the Javelin, and its two-seat, 315 hp derivative, the AMX, which led to five SCCA Central Division races in 1969.
Teague’s “Pinto-beater”, the 1970 Gremlin was simply an abbreviated Hornet on a 96” wheelbase. And if the old VW resembled a bug, the Pacer might have been called a frog! Teague planned on using a GM-built rotary engine and urethane bumpers, but GM failed to produce a motor, and steel bumpers were cheaper.
AMC sold over 280,000 Pacers in six years, so some of you must confess to buying one. Even Tony Lapine, who designed the Porsche 928, admits he was inspired by it.
And if Wayne of “Wayne’s World” drives one, I guess I could too.