School of Design
- Intelligent Mobility
J Mays is a world-renowned vehicle designer and Visiting Professor in the RCA's Vehicle Design programme. He has worked at an international level throughout his three-decade career, and his influence in the automobile design industry is evidenced through his work for major global car manufacturers including Volkswagen, Audi, BMW and Ford. He has been instrumental in the design of some of the world’s best-known and best-loved cars, including the new VW Beetle, and the Audi TT.
Born in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma, J Mays studied automotive design at the Art Centre College of Design in Pasadena, California. After he graduated in 1980, he joined Audi in Germany where he worked on the Audi 80 before joining BMW in 1983, where he worked on the 5 and 8 series. He returned to Audi in 1984, where he remained for 13 years and made his name working on the Audi 100, Volkswagen Golf, Volkswagen Polo, the Audi AVUS and the legendary Volkswagen Concept One, which went into production as the new VW Beetle.Show more
During his 16 years leading design at Ford, Mays was responsible for the company’s seven brands: Aston Martin, Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln, Mazda, Mercury and Volvo. He oversaw the development of the highly acclaimed Ford Fusion, Focus, Fiesta, Taurus, Mustang and F-150. He was also responsible for several significant concept vehicles, including the Audi AVUS; the Volkswagen Beetle Concept One; the Ford Atlas, Evos, 427, Forty-Nine and Shelby GR-1; and the Lincoln MKZ and MKC.
Alongside J Mays’ many professional accolades and awards, he can be credited with raising the profile of automobile design by attracting widespread critical attention historically reserved for architects, product designers and furniture designers. In 2002, his designs were the subject of a major museum show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles called Retrofuturism: The Car Designs of J Mays. He also transcended the barrier between vehicle design and animation when he was called upon by Pixar’s John Lasseter to consult on Disney’s Cars, and today acts in various advisory roles to the motion picture industry.