A Quebecois behind the design of the new Jeep Wrangler

Avto 7 December, 2017
  • Frédéric Mercier

    Frédéric Mercier

    Wednesday, 6 December 2017 18:20

    Wednesday, 6 December 2017 18:20

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    For the first time in 10 years, the Jeep Wrangler has been presented in a new generation. And there was a Quebecer who had a big role to play there.

    Born in New York city, Ralph Gilles had only one year when his parents settled in Montreal. This is where he grew up, and it is especially here that he fell in love with the automobile. “There was a big car culture associated with Montreal, the Civic up into the big Muscle Cars,” he recalls.

    But beyond the cars of all the days, this is the Formula 1 that gave the bite of the design to Gilles. “When the F1 came to town, the people of Toronto and New York landed with spectacular cars”, he recalls, the stars in the eyes.

    Impressed by the beauty of cars like the Lamborghini Countach or the Porsche 911, the young boy that was Ralph Gilles is put to question. Why some cars were they as beautiful as the majority of them just passed by unnoticed?

    “In the 80s, the cars were quite ugly, except for the exotic,” recalls Gilles. “I thought of this and I drew at home all the time, I was flipping through without stops the car magazines,” he continued, convinced that there was a way to do better with the regular cars.

    At age 17, Ralph Gilles has left Montreal to continue his studies in the United States. It is there that the best design schools were, and Ralph had the firm intention of transforming her passion into a profession.

    With hindsight, it was definitely the right thing to do. Because today, Ralph Gilles is one of the biggest names in the automotive industry. And since 2015, it is the big boss of design at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.



    A larger vehicle that nature

    Challenges, Ralph Gilles has raised a ton since joining Chrysler in 1992. And oversee the development of the new Wrangler is one of the most difficult.

    “It was a very intimidating”, summarizes in a straightforward Gilles, pointing out how the Wrangler has a will be spectacular in a Jeep. “This is bigger than ourselves.” It could not be said better.


    Read also: finally here it is, the all-new Jeep Wrangler


    Direct descendant of the Willys, a military vehicle built for the u.s. army in the early 40s, the Wrangler still retains today a style very similar to that of its ancestor. And, speaking of Ralph Gilles, this is not about to change.

    “We had a Willys that has been cut in two and that it was put on the wall of the studio to remind us where it all began,” says the big boss. For him, the respect for the heritage of the Wrangler was a priority. “We did a few experiments with the help of design students, but it was unnecessarily radical”, he says.

    Germain Goyer


    The result is that the Wrangler 2018 designed by Ralph Gilles and his team is still excessively similar to the old one, especially when seen from the outside. After all, why change a winning formula?

    In spite of everything, Ralph Gilles ensures that everything has been implemented to improve the Wrangler in all aspects. “Everything that the Jeep did, he is now better,” he promises. According to him, it is in the details that the new Wrangler will appeal to his audience.



    Now that the vehicle is unveiled, Ralph Gilles can finally breathe a little. But already, the little guy from Montreal has to supervise other projects for the upcoming launches. In the automotive industry, one does not simply stop forever.

    Ralph Gilles has left Montreal for a long time, but don’t believe that he has forgotten where he comes from. He is proud of his origins, and he never misses an opportunity to talk about it. Also, do not be especially surprised if you meet him on Crescent, the next summer, during the weekend of the Grand Prix.