Howard collaborates with Chrysler Group designer Ralph Gilles to customize vehicle unveiled at the 37th Annual NAACP Image Awards
* 2006 Jeep Commander features Howard’s personal signature
* Auction of vehicle on eBay to fund minority automotive design scholarship in the name of the NAACP and DaimlerChrysler
* Matching contribution of Jeep sale price to also fund minority arts scholarship
Los Angeles, Feb 28, 2006 –
Two creative talents — Academy Award®-nominated actor Terrence Howard and Chrysler 300 lead designer Ralph Gilles — unveiled a customized 2006 Jeep® Commander Feb. 25, 2006, on the red carpet of the 37th NAACP Image Awards.
As title sponsor of the Image Awards, DaimlerChrysler brought the two together for the one-of-a-kind vehicle collaboration as part of “My Custom Style,” a DaimlerChrysler and NAACP initiative to increase diversity in the field of automotive design.
The Howard-designed Jeep Commander, which features his signature on the exterior door and headrest embroidery, will be donated to the College for Creative Studies (CCS) in Detroit. The personalized Jeep Commander will then be auctioned off on eBay March 3-12, 2006 (www.eBay.com, item number 4616180090) through Giving Works, the internet auction site’s charity listings supporting non-profit organizations. The proceeds from the auction will create a minority automotive design scholarship fund at CCS in the name of the NAACP and DaimlerChrysler. Additionally, DaimlerChrysler and the NAACP will collaborate to identify a school offering the study of motion pictures arts and sciences to establish a scholarship fund with a contribution that matches the final sale price of the vehicle on eBay. Similar to the CCS scholarship, the matched contribution will go to benefit a minority student in their study of the arts.
“Flexing my creative muscles with one of the hottest car designers in the world was a thrill,” said Howard. “But the DaimlerChrysler project appealed to me for more important reasons; it was a way to give back to the community and help a deserving, promising student achieve his dreams.”
The brilliant black crystal Jeep Commander chosen by Howard and Gilles blends style, performance and distinctive personal touches. Their custom upgrades include: a stainless steel mesh grill, tinted front marker lights and taillight lenses, 22-inch TIS-brand “05” chrome-clad wheels, dark suede seat inserts and dual second- and third-row DVDs. The vehicle is powered by a rugged 330 horsepower 5.7-liter HEMI® SOHC V-8 engine and features a sunroof and Command-ViewTM skylights in the first and second row. Modification work was completed by DUB magazine.
“Terrence created a signature style that makes this a one-of-a-kind Jeep Commander that most people can identify with and enjoy,” said Gilles, Chrysler Group Director — Truck Design Studio. “As a leader in the design field, DaimlerChrysler has always been progressive, so it is natural for us to help bring new perspectives to the automotive design field.”
The NAACP, an organization that has long embraced education and advancement, shares DaimlerChrysler’s scholarship goal of opening doors to African-American students in a field they may not otherwise pursue.
“We are honored that DaimlerChrysler has been a longtime sponsor of the NAACP Image Awards, and is continuing its commitment by creating a collaboration to push our dream forward,” said NAACP Image Awards Chair Clayola Brown. “Both of our organizations share a strong commitment to education and to creating opportunities for minority students. This prospect is yet another example of that commitment.”
Minority students interested in receiving scholarship funding must apply to CCS and be accepted into an automotive design program based on the school’s criteria for admission. Upon matriculation, the financial support will be made available to deserving and qualified students.
“We feel the Image Awards is the premiere African American film and television recognition event,” said Frank Fountain, Chrysler Group Senior Vice President — External Affairs and Public Policy (Auburn Hills). “But our commitment goes beyond that. We are committed to the NAACP, and as a continuous supporter of the arts, we salute those behind the camera and in front of it.”
DaimlerChrysler also presents “Behind the Lens,” an award honoring those who have created images on screen that have stood the test of time. Previous honorees include Reuben Cannon, Gordon Parks, Melvin Van Peebles and John Singleton. The Behind the Lens Award celebrates its fifth anniversary in 2006.
About Terrence Howard
Following his performance in the Oscar-winning “Ray,” Terrence Howard starred in 2005’s Sundance Film Festival hit “Hustle & Flow,” and received Academy Award, Golden Globe and NAACP Image Award Best Actor nominations, the National Board of Review Breakthrough Actor Award and Independent Spirit Award. He was recently seen in the Academy Award-nominated “Crash” and the television movie “Their Eyes Were Watching God” alongside Halle Berry. Howard will soon appear in the HBO/Outkast project “Idlewild.”
About Ralph V. Gilles
Ralph Gilles, Chrysler Group Director — Truck Exterior and Interior Design Studio, has earned acclaim as the lead designer of the Chrysler 300, the most award-winning car in history. In addition to his work on the 300, Gilles was the lead designer of the Dodge Magnum and Dodge Charger, director of the M80 concept vehicle, and primary interior designer for the Dodge Viper GTS/R, Dodge ESX2 and Jeep Jeepster concept vehicles. Gilles, a New York City-born son of Haitian immigrants, is considered one of the most influential designers in the auto industry.
About the College for Creative Studies
The College for Creative Studies is one of the nation’s leading arts education institutions. CCS is a private, fully accredited, four-year college located in Detroit, offering Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in 11 studio majors. The College provides a dynamic learning environment where students explore issues of art and design, and the culture in which they exist, while preparing for careers in the professional world. CCS has one of the world’s most recognized programs in transportation design and places more graduates in the automotive industry than any other school.
About the Jeep Commander
The 2006 Jeep Commander is the most capable seven-passenger 4×4. With its classic Jeep styling, the Commander takes its design cues from nearly 65 years of heritage. Beneath the 2006 Jeep Commander is the formula that separates the Jeep brand’s newest SUV from off-road pretenders by offering three full-time four-wheel drive systems designed to conquer a variety of road surfaces and satisfy all types of drivers and two V-8 engines, including the 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine. The 2006 Jeep Commander includes the highest levels of safety and security technology and features ever offered on a Chrysler Group vehicle. And, because Commander is the first Jeep vehicle with three rows of seats, more passengers — seven — can visit more places to enjoy its go-anywhere, do-anything capability.