Robert Opron (22 February 1932 - 29 March 2021) was a French automotive designer, trained as an architect, and noted for designs from the 1960s through the 1980s for Simca, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Ligier, Renault – and Citroën, where he became Responsable de Style, head of the design department, in 1962.
Opron was one of twenty-five designers nominated for the 1999 Car Designer of the Century competition.
Opron studied eight years at the École des Beaux-Arts, studying architecture, painting, and sculpture. After working at a sugar factory and in the airplane industry, Opron began working at Simca in 1952 at age 26. Subsequently he joined Arthur Martin, a design office for furniture, bathroom fixtures and domestic furnishings, where he became Director of Style. From there he moved to Simca where he designed the futuristic concept car, the Simca Fulgur.
Opron later met Flaminio Bertoni, head of design for Citroën, famed author of the original DS. When Bertoni asked to see his work, Opron opened his portfolio with drawings of Simca designs. Bertoni tossed them on the ground, spreading them with his cane and saying they were worthless. Opron collected his drawings, indicated that he found Bertoni's behavior unacceptable – at which point Bertoni said "you interest me". Opron replied that the feeling wasn't mutual, and left. Three weeks later, he received a letter of recruitment from Citroën.
When Citroën overextended itself and declared bankruptcy in 1974, the French Government, concerned at the potential job losses, merged Citroën with Peugeot – and dismissed Opron.
A celebration of his work, OPRON 50 Years of Style was held on 11 May 2002 in Verrières-le-Buisson on the occasion of his 70th birthday.
Robert Opron died on 29 March 2021.
The dolphin, the leopard, the swift, they each move at a speed consistent with their environment, each using a minimum of energy. What a great lesson for a stylist.
— Robert Opron, Opron at Citroen, the Chamber Orchestra
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