As the world watches in continued excitement, anticipating the latest announcements from Elon Musk, it is time to pause and look at others before him and his peers who have brought change to the automobile industry, changing the way we hit the roads.

Cars and trucks on the road are a lot different, safe and convenient from their predecessors.  This is entirely possible due to the incredible marriage of different concepts with technology, overseen by these visionaries. Yes, we owe them a salute. Here’s the top 51 with apologies to those who did not make it, but whose contribution has made a difference.

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Elon Musk 

 

Country of Birth – South Africa

Present/Past Designation – Founder, Tesla

The name evokes awe. Maybe because of the radical ideas. But then ideas are what trigger change. And Elon Musk seems to be having a habit of changing things. Call it the Midas Touch or whatever, but he is one who will continue to surprise us with innovation and technology.

John Krafcik

John Krafcik 

 

Country Of Birth – America

Present/Past Designation – CEO, Google Self Driving Cars

The CEO of Google self driving cars, seems to have had a hand in the growth of companies he led. He is now at the forefront of efforts that the world is keenly watching and waiting. You can be sure that there will be progress. Lets wait.

Mary Barra 

 

Country of Birth – America

Present/Past Designation – CEO, General Motors

When its got to do with cars, can we even think of leaving out General Motors. By the twin virtues of shepherding GM through a mini crisis and taking decisions that involve substantial investments in new technology, she rides behind John.

Mary Barra
Anthony Levandowski

Anthony Levandowsk

 

Country of Birth – America

Present/Past Designation – Entrepreneur

We are increasingly looking at a future of self driven vehicles. And at the center of a big jousting lies Anthony. While many of us are aware of the developments of Google and Uber, not many know that Anthony has been quietly developing a technology for the future.

Christian Von Koenigsegg 

 

Country of Birth – Sweden

Present/Past Designation – Founder, Koenisgegg AB

Some changes are loud, some are quiet. Christian Von Koenigsegg has heralded the latter kind of changes in the more than two decades of his association with hybrid car technology at Koenigsegg. New concepts will quietly flow from here.

Christian Von Koenigsegg
Sergio Marchionne

Sergio Marchionne

Country of Birth – Italy

Present/Past Designation – Founder, Koenisgegg AB

Heading the combined entity of Chrysler and Fiat is no mean achievement. It is like chalk and cheese. However, he has managed to bring about a turn in fortunes for Chrysler, while paving the way for the classic and distinct Fiat to make a comeback of sorts.

Alan Mulally

 

Country of Birth – America

Designation – Formed President & CEO, Ford Motor Company

Ever since Henry Ford, changed the landscape of the American Automobile Industry, the Ford Motor Company has been dear to all of us. And Alan the former President & CEO, seems to be have followed in the footsteps of the great Henry, smoothly, deftly.

Ralph Gilles

Ralph Gilles 

Country of Birth – Canada

Present/Past Designation – Head of Design, Fiat Chrysler

Another one of the adorable people in the automobile industry, Ralph as head of Product Design at Chrysler is one of those very few people who are blessed with the art of interaction in addition to the brains for development.

Jeremy Clarkson  

 

Country of Birth – United Kingdom

Present/Past Designation – Co-host, Top Gear, Columnist

Well he’s here, not because he is one of our type, but because his word has an effect. What he says becomes the automatic second opinion. More of a default fact finder and fault checker, Jeremy is the one who can swing opinion with his candid views.

Chung Mong Koo

Chung Mong Koo 

Country of Birth – South Korea

Present/Past Designation – Chairman, Hyundai Motor

Hyundai’s transformation has been the talk of the automobile sector. And presiding over its value addition is none other than Chung Mong Koo who has managed to get the competition to make grudging space and respect the Korean car.

Barb Samardzich

Country of Birth – America

Present/Past Designation – VP, Product Design, Ford Europe

A champion of the unique concept of Ford to make an outstanding model and make a strong sales pitch to make it available across global markets, Barb has executed it to perfection. This has worked admirably and credit also goes to this VP.

Barb Samardzich
Jerod Shelby

Jerod Shelby 

 

Country of Birth – America

Present/Past Designation – Founder, SCC

The founder of the supercars has managed to carve a niche for SCC within the market, with the much awaited models building a lot of expectations. We can be sure that SCC will come up with something that will add great value, surprising us again.

Rupert Stadler 

Country of Birth – Germany

Present/Past Designation – Chairman, Audi Group

The distinct design of the German car maker is increasingly seen on the roads globally, thanks to a refreshing approach by Rupert who has managed to beat others to get Audi close to the top rungs in the automobile pecking order.

Rupert Stadler
Jason Castriota

Jason Castriota

Country of Birth – America

Present/Past Designation – VP, Product Design, Ford Europe

The looks of a car means a lot, both to a user and to the manufacturer. That is the reason why the likes of Jason Castriota are hot property. The man behind the designs for coveted Ferrari and Maserati models is key to product appeal.

Bernie Ecclestone

Country of Birth – Britain

Present/Past Designation – President & CE, Formula One Management

For speed maniacs and automobile lovers alike, Bernie is a name that is synonymous with cars. Overlooking the glamorous world of motorsport, he has helped keep the adrenaline going high by managing races with aplomb.

Bernie Ecclestone
Bob Lutz

Bob Lutz

Country of Birth – America

Present/Past Designation – Advisor, GM & Lotus

Sometimes key stakeholders are not easily recognized in public, despite having a strong influence in things. Bob, famously known as ‘Maximum’ has presided over some of the most spectacular turnarounds and concepts in the car industry.

Norbert Reithofer

Country of Birth – Germany

Present/Past Designation – Chairman, BMW Auto Group

Cars may come and cars may go, but there is very little that can be done to change perceptions about the BMW. Rock solid, this auto group that has benefitted from a superlative stewardship of Norbert.

Norbert Reithofer
Martin Smith

Martin Smith

Country of Birth – America

Present/Past Designation – Executive Design Directo, Ford Europe

The influence of the Ford group will remain everlasting on the automobile horizon and following in the footsteps of the illustrious founder, Martin has helped keep the flag aloft with pathbreaking design concepts.

Dieter Zetsche

Country of Birth – Germany

Present/Past Designation – Chairman, Daimler AG

Instrumental in making strong decisions that were much awaited, Dieter, has helped in the revamp of the German auto major, helping to bring oomp and appeal back within the folds of Mercedes.

Dieter Zetsche
Bob King

Bob King

Country of Birth – America

Present/Past Designation – President, United Auto Workers

Definitely not an odd man in the list, Bob is the King. With his hands full, helping to shape the unions and ushering in workplace reforms and mindsets requires commitment, and that is one thing that Bob has in plenty.

Sebastian Vettel

Country of Birth – Germany

Present/Past Designation – Champion F1 Driver

With consecutive wins seeing him on the podium thrice, Vettel has it going, at high speed. The very fact that he is young makes him a speedking who will remain in the racing books for long, occupying print and digital space with the likes of AyrtonSenna and Alain Prost.

Sebastian Vettel
Peter Schreyer

Peter Schreyer

Country of Birth – Germany

Present/Past Designation – KIA Design Chief

With designs apparently having a very short appeal life, it matters the most to make cars that look good for long. And Peter Schreyer has been instrumental in churning out designs for KIA that make them look the best, for long.

Giorgetto Giugiaro

Country of Birth – Italy

Present/Past Designation –  Founder, Italdesign Giugiaro

With the tag of a celebrated designer for cars, Giorgetto’s creations are keenly awaited at  Global Motor Shows. One of the more futuristic designers, he has never failed to deliver, earning the coveted status of one of the most talented designers.

Giorgetto Giugiaro
Ken Block

Ken Block

Country of Birth – America

Present/Past Designation – Rally Driver

Though not in the ranks as quickest one, he certainly merits a mention, for the buzz that he generates each time he slips behind the wheels. And this has got to do with sparking interest among the millennials and the velvet rope generation.

Li SHu Fu

Country of Birth – China

Present/Past Designation – Founder, Geely

This is one name to look out for. The speed with which events are unfolding around Geely are sure to make the field a lot more interesting. Game changing decisions and infusion of designs will certainly help the industry and Geely has played the role of catalyst.

Li SHu Fu
Tanner Foust

Tanner Foust

Country of Birth – America

Present/Past Designation – Pro Driver &Presenter, Top Gear

With a penchant for something new, something speedy all the time, Tanner is packed with pleasant surprises. With a hand in Present/Pasting shows, training drivers, taking the wheels and performing stunts at breakneck speed, Tanner seems to have it all.

Ryan Friedlinghaus

Country of Birth – America

Present/Past Designation – Owner, West Coast Customs

One among the more popular identities for custom cars, Ryan is one among the very few who have made it despite others biting the dust. Hats off to the guy from the West Coast who brings out top end custom rides.

Ryan Friedlinghaus
Jim Farley

Jim Farley

Country of Birth – America

Present/Past Designation – Group VP, Ford Motor Company

Spicing up the competition, with the power of digital, this is one internet savvy marketing pro who is gung ho about Ford, who does not miss the opportunity to take the fight to the rivals through social media.

Olivier Francois

Country of Birth – France

Present/Past Designation – CEO, FIAT Brand

Francois seems to have job cut out. To get more eyeballs and push the reputation of Fiat higher. And he seems to be doing a good job at it. He gets to take the call on whats in and whats out, and what goes into the models that hit the markets.

Olivier Francois
Adrian van Hooydonk

Adrian van Hooydonk

Country of Birth – Holland

Present/Past Designation – Design Director, BMW Group

With refreshing designs hitting the road, it is no surprise that the change of guard at the design team has fetched results. The classy BMWs are a lot sleek, and posh in design appeal, thanks to Hoodyonk.

Dietrich Mateschitz

Country of Birth – Austria

Present/Past Designation – Principal, Red Bull Racing

The name that instantly brings images of the fastest moving objects on land and air in competition, Red Bull racing has contributed largely to bring the sport to all corners of the world. And also winning it, at times.

Dietrich Mateschitz
Akio Toyoda

Akio Toyoda

Country of Birth – Japan

Present/Past Designation – President& CEO Toyota Motor Corporation

With not just a business interest in automobiles, but a fan himself, this is one stakeholder who will help to bring in change, the way we want it. Toyota will move into a different category in the coming years, under Akio’s stewardship.

Ian Cullam

Country of Birth – Scotland

Present/Past Designation – Design Director, Jaguar

There really is something about a Jaguar. And Ian has helped to keep the distinct design and brand identity alive with concepts that are appealing and elegant. The future is going to be a lot more exciting with more beauties coming out of the Jag stable.

Ian Cullam
Mark Reuss

Mark Reuss

Country of Birth – America

Present/Past Designation – President, GM North America

GM has managed to instill insecurity in the minds of a few competitors, largely due to the reinventing of the Cadillac. And Mark has surprised many with the models that have moved it to a category desirable for the younger generation.

Luca di Montezemolo

Country of Birth – Italy

Present/Past Designation – Chairman, Ferrari

Nothing needs to be said about a Ferrari. Most of the human race is aware of this iconic car and Luca’s contribution has been immense. Not only has he helped to keep the flag flying, he has brought in changes that have had a great impact in the cars that leave the assembly.

Luca di Montezemolo
Ferdinand Piech

Ferdinand Piech

Country of Birth – Austria

Present/Past Designation – Chairman, Volkswagen Auto Group

With an ambition to see the brand occupy top rung in the industry, Ferdinand seems to be giving it his all. And he is certainly aided to a great extent by the impressive inventory that the brand owns.

Moray Callum

Country of Birth – Scotland

Present/Past Designation – Executive Director of Design, Ford America

Heralding a change in design, Callum has brought out the kinetic design in Ford. And boy do we love it. We can be sure that his influence will mark the beginning of a new design influence in future Ford models.

Moray Callum
Eddie Alterman

Eddie Alterman

Country of Birth – America

Present/Past Designation – Editor, Car & Driver

The contribution of Automobile magazines to the industry needs no introduction and the reason why we are putting out this list is an evolution of the magazines that brought automobiles to the drawing rooms. And Eddie has helped keep us informed.

Jerry Seinfeld

Country of Birth – America

Present/Past Designation – Car Collector, Comedian

When hes not tickling our funny bones, he is upto something very serious, getting us interested a lot in cars, in a different way.  This is one star who knows how to get eyeballs and guffaws to disseminate interesting information.

Jerry Seinfeld
Chris Harris

Chris Harris

Country of Birth – England

Present/Past Designation – Present of YouTube Series

It is the age of digital media. And YouTube hits count a lot, regardless of who you are. And Chris has a very endearing way of getting us interested. There is no man splaining here. It is something that we can relate to easily.

Jay Leno

Country of Birth – America

Present/Past Designation – TV Show Host

Make a TV Show host of a popular series interested in a hobby and you can be sure that the presenter will ensure that die hard fans have a great time. Jay Leno, has managed to carve out a niche for himself by representing the fans with his show – Leno’s Garage.

Jay Leno
Maximillian Cooper

Maximillian Cooper

Country of Birth – Britain

Present/Past Designation – Founder, Gumball 3000

The founder of one of the most popular supercar rally definitely needs mention. Travelling across regions, the rally has attracted a lot of attention among populations, with an amalgamation of the best things in life with automobiles.

Kazunori Yamauchi

Country of Birth – Japan

Present/Past Designation – CEO, Grand Turismo

What is a gaming design studio CEO doing on an automobile influencer list? If this is what you are wondering, you need to know that his association is not limited to just developing games, but he has designed some of the best displays in best seller car models.

Kazunori Yamauchi
RALPH LAUREN

Ralph Lauren

Country of Birth – American

Present/Past Designation – Car Collector

History is not meant to be forgotten. And it is to the credit of collectors and famous personalities like Ralph that we still see some of the vintage cars around. Yes, he has kept old models in pristine collection and helped us to get a good look at how cars used to be.

Walter De Silva

Country of Birth – Italy

Present/Past Designation – Design Head, Volkswagen Group

Talk about being hedonistic and the Lamborghini comes to mind. Walter’s influence in the creation and concept of the design that went into the iconic model has just made us realise that designs can inspire beyond words.

Walter De Silva
Adrian Newey

Adrian Newey

Country of Birth – England

Present/Past Designation – Chief Technical Officer, Red Bull Racing

Without the hand of technical superstars like Adrian, we would not have seen F1 drivers blazing to glory on the race tracks. A wizard in understanding how cars and air act upon each other, his contribution in speed is immense.

Jack & George Keshishyan

Country of Birth – America

Present/Past Designation – Owners, Platinum Motorsport

Partners in arms in customizing, the duo have grown out of the MTV hit series. And with success touching every initiative of theirs, they seem to have a penchant for getting the biggest names in showbiz lining up for their customized versions.

Jack & George Keshishyan
KimiRaikkonen

KimiRaikkonen

Country of Birth – Finland

Present/Past Designation – Champion F1 Driver

While he seemed to have fallen out of the F1 circuit, he still makes it to the list by virtue of being one of the best. Speed thrills and F1 racing have a die hard fan following and Kimi has helped build the fan base with his skills.

Graziella Zanoletti

Country of Birth – Italy

Present/Past Designation – Owner, Elite Rent a Car

Exotic car rentals have made a lot of things possible. For instance, the wedding bride and groom can now drive in a car of their choice on the big day, and we get to see our favorite stars behind the wheels of the most expensive cars, thanks to Graziella, the one who started the concept.

Graziella Zanoletti
Ray Claridge

Ray Claridge

Country of Birth – America

Present/Past Designation – Cinema Vehicle Services

Many of us may have probably seen a new car model or a different version, on screen. And, chances are that behind all the hot action on the screen, it would have been a CVS car. And Ray deserves the credit for bringing all the best cars on screen.

Sebastian Loeb

Country of Birth – France

Present/Past Designation – Driver, WRC

With a string of consecutive wins under his belt, Loeb has finished convincing us that he is one of the best. Nine wins in a row, shows his class, and being the class act that he is, we are not surprised that he is trying out something else with a new car model. He deserves to be here.

Sebastian Loeb