Ed Welburn To Retire as GM Design Head, Michael Simcoe Tapped to Replace Him

ed welburn to retire as gm design head michael simcoe tapped to replace him

After realizing the American Dream as head of General Motors’ design division, Ed Welburn announced today that he’ll retire on July 1 after being with the automaker for 44 years.

Welburn, 65, headed GM Design since 2003 and Global Design since 2004, leading the teams who crafted the models that led the automaker out of bankruptcy — among them, the Buick LaCrosse and Enclave, Chevrolet Camaro and Equinox, and Cadillac CTS.

He’ll be replaced by Michael Simcoe, a 33-year veteran of GM Design and vice president of GM International Design.

As a child, Welburn was bit by the design bug after seeing the Cadillac Cyclone concept car at the 1958 Philadelphia Auto Show. After an education and apprenticeship, he started in GM’s Buick Exterior Studio in 1973.

During his stint as design head, Welburn oversaw the creation of 10 worldwide GM design centers, employing a total of 2,500 designers.

As the first African-American to hold the post (for any automaker), he involved himself in community outreach, launching the “You Make a Difference” design mentoring program in Detroit’s public schools, and a number of GM Foundation educational grants.

GM CEO Mary Barra credited Welburn for instilling a “creative, inclusive and customer-focused culture among our designers,” while Mark Reuss, executive vice president of global project development, credited his “ability to take diverse ideas and mold them into great products that surprise and delight our customers.”

The design concepts rolled out under his guidance were numerous, but the last one he oversaw might be the most significant. The Buick Avenir concept vehicle of 2015 didn’t make it to production (few concepts do), but the design language was adopted by the Buick brand, as well as its signature grille.

If you started your career by molding clay for future Buicks, it must feel good to end it on a high note with the same brand.

[Image: Ed Welburn, Steve Fecht/Buick]

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  • Jeff S Jeff S on Apr 09, 2016

    GM should have built his 2 door concept and called it the Riviera. There is nothing wrong with Welburn's designs. GM's designs have gotten much better in the last few years. Mr.Welburn's design influence will be missed. Lincoln could use these designs. The four door design in the second picture would make a great looking Continental.

  • Zipper69 Zipper69 on Apr 10, 2016

    So this is the joker that gave us the pouting guppy look on Buick? No wonder he stole away in shame....

  • Snickel Fritz I just bought a '97 JX 4WD 4AT, and though it's not quite roadworthy yet I am already in awe of it's simplicity and apparent ruggedness. What I am equally in awe of, is the scarcity of not only parts but correct information regarding anything on this platform. I'm going to do my best to get this little donkey back on it's feet, but I wouldn't suggest this as a project vehicle for anyone who doesn't already have several... and a big impressive shop with a full suite of fabrication/machining/welding equipment, and friends with complimentary skillsets, and extra money, and... you get the idea. If you don't, I urge you to read up on the options for replacing anything on these rigs. I didn't read enough before buying, and I have zero of the above suggested prerequisites... so I'm an idiot, don't listen to me. Go buy all of 'em!
  • Bryan Raab Davis I actually did use the P of D trope, but it was only gentle chiding, for I love old British cars of every sort.
  • ScarecrowRepair The 1907 Panic had several causes of increased demand for money:[list][*]The semi-annual shift of money between farms and cities (to buy for planting and selling harvests)[/*][*]Britain and Germany borrowing for their naval arms race[/*][*]San Francisco reconstruction borrowing after the 1906 earthquake and fire[/*][/list]Two things made it worse:[list][*]Idiotic bans on branch banking, which prevented urban, rural, and other state branches from shifting funds to match demands. This same problem made the Great Depression far worse. Canada, which allowed branch banking, had no bank failures; the US had 9000 failures.[/*][*]Idiotic reserve requirements left over from the Civil War which prevented banks from loaning money; they eventually started honoring IOUs illegally and started the recovery.[/*][/list]Been a while since I read up on it, so I may have some of the details wrong. But it was an amazing clusterfart which could have been avoided or at least tamed sooner if states and the feds hadn't been so ham handed.
  • FreedMike Maybe this explains all the “Idiots wrecking exotic cars” YouTube videos.
  • FreedMike Good article! And I salute the author for not using the classic “Lucas - prince of darkness” trope, well earned as it may be. We all know the rap on BL cars, but on the flip side, they’re apparently pretty easy to work on (at least that’s the impression I’ve picked up). On the other hand, check the panel fits on the driver’s and passenger’s doors. Clearly, BL wasn’t much concerned with things like structural integrity when it chopped the roof off a car designed as a coupe.