John Chun

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John M. Chun (August 3, 1928 – July 6, 2013) was a Korean-born American car designer. Chun designed the Shelby Mustang GT350 and GT500 models released between 1968 and 1969.[1][2]

1968 Shelby GT500
1968 Ford Mustang Shelby GT 500 fastback

He later worked as a consultant for Hyundai during the launch of its first car lines.[1] He moved to Minnesota in the early 1970s, where he oversaw the design and creation of a new line of toy cars for Tonka Toys.[1][3]

Born in present-day North Korea to an engineer, Chun moved to South Korea in 1953 as active fighting ended during the Korean War.[3] He immigrated to the United States in 1957, after a friend had already moved to the U.S., settling in Sacramento, California.[3] He held an engineering degree from a university in Korea, but the degree was not useful in the American job market and Chun spoke little English at the time.[3] Chun enrolled at Sacramento Junior College, where a professor insisted that he apply to the Art Center College of Design (ACCD) in Pasadena, California.[3] He worked full-time as a mechanic while studying at ACCD.[3] Chun received his bachelor's degree in industrial design, with a specialty in transportation design, after seven years, while working as a mechanic to pay for his class.[3]

After leaving Tonka Toys, he owned and operated the Chun Mee Restaurant in Delano, Minnesota, with his family from 1986 until his death in 2013.[1]

John Chun died on July 6, 2013, at the age of 84. He was survived by his wife, Helen Chun, and children Marsha and Kevin.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Walsh, Paul (2013-07-18). "Obituary: John Chun, design wizard behind the Mustang Shelby sports car". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2013-07-30.
  2. ^ Strickler, Jeff (2012-08-13). "Car designer builds classic success story; On his way to Minnesota, a Korean immigrant reshaped American automotive history with his design for a legendary 1960s sports car". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2013-07-30.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Ernst, Kurt (2013-07-08). "Former Shelby American designer John Chun dies at age 84". Hemmings Daily. Retrieved 2013-07-30.