Roger C. Johnson
December 28, 2016

In the mid-Nineties, I was the editor of the Mustang Club of America’s monthly magazine the “Mustang Times.” As a result, I attended many of the national and regional meets from Florida to Texas and points in between. Aside from having the chance to see, photograph, and write about some of the coolest Mustangs in the hobby, this gig also provided me with the opportunity to meet many of the best and brightest engineers and designers in the industry.

One such individual was Larry Shinoda. He was the guest of honor at the July 4th National Mustang gathering in Houston Texas. I had the pleasure of spending two days with this engaging gentleman and brilliant automotive designer.

As we walked the show in the hot sunshine at this mid-summer spectacle, Larry was approached by many passing enthusiasts who simply wanted to pay their respect to the master. Even with a simple smile or a nod. Yet Larry Shinoda always exhibited the calm, warmth, and sincerity of a favorite uncle to all he encountered. Years after retiring from the Big Two, he was still willing and able to attend these events to the delight of car lovers everywhere. It was after that Texas show, when Larry mailed this material to me, after reading about a Fiberfab-equipped early Mustangs in Mustang Times. He briefly talked about designing the clip and where the styling influences came from, then attached a sketch of his “Vagabond” dune buggy idea.

Larry’s roots in the automotive industry ran deep. He was selected in 1960 by Zora Duntov to help in the design of Chevrolet engineering’s first research vehicle, the CERV 1. This single seat, open-wheel car was the test mule for Corvette systems still to come. It will be selling for huge money at Barrett-Jackson’s 2017 Scottsdale auction.

The first Stingray Corvette was another of Larry’s masterpieces. And during his tenure at Ford so was the Boss 302 treatment for the Mustang, along with many other projects. I still have the business card he gave me that day in Texas so many years ago. It is printed in English on one side, and Japanese on the other. Best of all, Larry’s fingerprints are all over it. This simple card remains one of my most cherished items.

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