By John Challen Retirement ( from the car industry, at least) beckons for Patrick Le Quément, veteran of Ford, Volkswagen- Audi and Renault design car design was done in their coffee breaks"
W hen you talk to Patrick Le Quément - who has over 40 years' experience in the automotive world - there is no doubting his enthusiasm for car design, or his willingness to please. You might think that the man responsible for countless designs, from the Ford Cargo pickup to the first Renault Twingo, has given enough to design, but you'd be wrong. " Mine is clearly not a retirement dedicated to fishing or cycling," Le Quément says. " I have had quite a few offers: attending conferences, doing some tuition, and to be involved in the French Institute of Design, which is currently being created. I was also contacted by a shipbuilder who makes racing boats, and he is interested in using me as a consultant on design management, strategy and how to increase perceived quality." So not really retirement at all then. For now though, Le Quément is not making any decisions, and when he does, he will " only accept things that really interest me". Le Quément admits there are two other things in his life that have interested him: boat design and architecture. " There is an interesting paradox between cars and architecture," he states. " A car is a moving object in which you sit still. A building is static but you can move within it." A car- mad child who liked drawing meant that there was only really one path the Frenchman was going to follow. " I was around 10 years old when I was reading an article about Pininfarina and the Ferrari 350GT. That was when I knew what I would be doing [ for a job]. Until then I thought car design was something that engineers did in their coffee breaks. I never thought I Ford Cargo " This was my first project as an executive designer. Trucks were not as sensitive as cars when it came to design, so I was allowed a lot of freedom. It also gave me the chance to work with Bob Lutz." Ford Sierra " This was a vehicle that worked - eventually! In the UK, it was replacing the final Cortina, and maybe it was asking a bit too much of the conservative British public to accept a futuristic design."