The car industry has changed drastically over the past few years. Not only has today’s vehicles become more fuel-efficient, but there is a splash of swagger that we haven’t seen, since thumbing through the pages of Ebony’s car ads back in the seventies.

This new design flair is literally being driven by a handful of auto designers who have literally turned the industry upside-down. Over the next few weeks we’ll give you an inside peak at the young brothers and sister who are driving sales for the Chrysler Group, GM, Ford and Hyundai.

As we all know, there is nothing like a kickin’ design coupled with above average quality that can turn a dud into a swan. Over the past few years a number of folks from our community have done just that. Just like Jesus did the unimaginable, turning water into wine, the featured car designers have done the same in the auto industry.

Ralph Gilles, the forty something, one-time college dropout and the former lead designer of the ultra-popular 300 for the Chrysler Group, revived the then domestic-owned automaker several years ago.

Everyone had to have the 300. Because of the gangster-like, contemporary design that flanked the rear-wheel drive vehicle, celebrities and politicians from President Obama to radio and TV personality Tavis Smiley to Atlanta-based prosperity minister Creflo Dollar to rapper Snoop Dogg all had one parked in their garage at one time. Besides the 300, Gilles was also responsible for the Dodge Charger and making the station wagon, which are now referred to as crossovers, fly again with the now defunct Dodge Magnum. Obviously, Gilles, with his model-like appearance, has become a star in his own right.

These days Gilles holds the top spot for the Italian-owned automaker domestic brands. Gilles oversees every brand under the umbrella of the Chrysler Group (Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and SRT).  He’s the first and only person of color to hold such a position in the history of the automaker.

Recently, I caught up with Gilles for a brief one-on-one interview.

Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new-vehicle, drive on over to Follow him!/JeffCars/.