It would be difficult to overstate the many automotive contributions made by late engineer, pioneer, and Automotive Hall of Fame inductee Roy Lunn, who passed away earlier this month at the age of 92. While he’s best remembered as the godfather of the Ford GT40 sportscar that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans four years in a row during the 1960s, perhaps equally important (although not as flashy) was Mr. Lunn’s role in helping create the modern crossover-utility-vehicle segment.
After having a hand in the original Ford GT40, not to mention the Mustang I concept and Boss 429 Mustang, Mr. Lunn left the Blue Oval and was hired on as chief design engineer for AMC Jeep. It was in that capacity that he proposed the concept for what would become the AMC Eagle – a raised car with available all-wheel drive, unibody construction, and handling characteristics not unlike those offered by the conventional, rear-wheel-drive cars of the time. It even had an independent front suspension design – a first among mass-produced AWD vehicles.
Roy Lunn wasn’t done there; he stayed on long enough to aid in the creation of the second-generation (XJ) Jeep Cherokee – the first unibody 4×4 that wasn’t a military vehicle. He even designed the Jeep’s clever Quadra-Link rear suspension, which limited the risk of a rollover.
After departing from AMC in 1985, Mr. Lunn became vice president of engineering at AM General, presiding over the completion of the original Humvee. He finally retired in 1987 at the age of 62, although he continued to design and build furniture, and wrote three books: Oil Crisis: Sooner Than You Think (2004); Globalization: A Worldwide Quest for a Sustainable Future (2008); and The World Crisis: It All Started With 9/11 (2009).
Roy Lunn passed away on August 5th, after suffering a stroke in late-July from which he never recovered. He was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 2016 alongside former Ford CEO Alan Mulally and Unsafe at Any Speed author Ralph Nader.
(Source: Road & Track)