WFPL: Louisville Native Bill Porter, Designer of Iconic GM Cars, Speaks in His Hometown

By Tara Anderson, July 21 2015
Originally posted on WFPL website

You don’t have to be a car geek to recognize the designs Bill Porter is responsible for.

Porter, a Louisville native, was a chief designer for General Motors for three decades. He is responsible for the look of some of General Motor’s most iconic vehicles, including the 1968 Pontiac GTO, the Trans Am, and the Pontiac Firebird 400.

He will speak about the history of American auto design on Wednesday evening in his hometown.

In an interview with WFPL News, Porter said the art classes he took as a child, at what was the precursor of the current Louisville Visual Art, helped him realize he had an aptitude for design. Beginning when he was maybe in the sixth grade, Porter’s father would drop him off at an old building on First Street.

He majored in fine art and art history at the University of Louisville, and he said Louisville’s vibrant art scene and his professors at U of L inspired him.

“Louisville was certainly not a cultural backwater in the ’40s and ’50s, so that pretty much affected my entire outlook on art and on life,” said Porter.

After completing graduate work at the Pratt Institute in New York City, he came on as a summer intern in what was then known as “General Motors Styling.” He was later hired as a full-time employee and spent the rest of his career there.

Porter’s talk is sponsored by Kentucky to the World, an organization that showcases talented and noteworthy Kentuckians.

Porter speaks Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Henry Clay Building, with a reception at 5:30. Tickets will be sold in advance only.

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