Skip to main content

Minn. man who helped design Shelby Mustang dies

  • Author:
  • Updated:

The Korea-born, longtime Minnesota resident who played a part in designing one of the most iconic American muscle cars has died, the Star Tribune reports.

John Chun was 84.

Chun worked at Ford as a design engineer for the Mustang Shelby Cobra models in the late 1960s – the brand's cobra snake logo and the car's spoiler were among his contributions, the Delano Herald Journal reported in a lengthy 2011 profile. He designed the 1967, 1968 and 1969 models, he told the publication.

“They gave me a Mustang body, and they told me to do something about it. Each year has a different hood, grill, and lights,” Chun told the Herald Journal. “Different horsepower, bigger engine, different stripes. It became a hot-ticket item. Everyone wanted that."

In a profile last year, Chun told the Star Tribune that people were surprised to learn he was a Mustang designer. "Here I am, claiming to have designed a famous American car, and I'm Asian. Not only Asian, I'm from North Korea! That really gets them."

Chun is listed among the "legends" that made the Shelby Mustang happen in Mustang Monthly.

Chun was born in what would become North Korea, and moved to South Korea after the Korean War in 1953, the Hemmings Daily reported. By 1957, he’d followed a friend to California, the publication reported.

Chun came to Minnesota to work for Tonka toys, the former Twin Cities company that hired him to held design toy cars, the Star Tribune reported.

Chun for the past 27 years has owned and operated a Chinese restaurant in Delano, the Star Tribune noted.

Next Up

Doug Wardlow

Doug Wardlow reneges on promise, will challenge GOP's AG candidate in primary

Wardlow's announcement sparked swift criticism from the MN GOP and the party-endorsed candidate, Jim Schultz.

Flickr - welcome to minnesota sign - Tony Webster

US News '150 Best Places to Live' features 1 from MN, 3 from WI

The latest US News list is for the most populous metro areas only, so no small towns.


7 tornadoes touched down last week in western MN, ND

Two of the seven were EF-2 level tornadoes, according to the National Weather Service.


Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Tuesday, May 17

72 hours of case data reported over the weekend is included in Tuesday updates.

Stallings surveillance footage - screengrab - crop

City of Minneapolis, Jaleel Stallings reach $1.5M settlement

Although a settlement was made, the city will not admit fault or take any responsibility for the incident as part of the agreement with Stallings.


2 rescued after kayaks capsize on Sauk River

Recent heavy rainfall produced a strong currents on the water.

covid 19 test

How to order 8 free at-home COVID-19 tests

A third round of free tests is now available from the U.S. government.


Three new Grandstand shows added for Minnesota State Fair 2022

The Beach Boys and Portugal. The Man are among several acts booked.

St. Louis County

St. Louis County set to declare state of emergency ahead of peak flood levels

Volunteers are urgently needed for sandbagging efforts in a small community near Voyageurs National Park.

Screen Shot 2022-05-16 at 5.03.30 PM

Brothers Bar & Grill closes in downtown Minneapolis

The Midwest chain closed its St. Cloud location in 2018.


Influential designer who made iconic Red Wing dinnerware dies at 105

Ceramic artist Eva Zeisel, who's curvy, modern approach for practical objects influenced designs worldwide in the 1940s and beyond has died. Zeisel's 'Town and Country' dinnerware set, especially the abstract salt and pepper shakers, for Red Wing Pottery became iconic collectibles.

SHELBY SHARES: Brett Kelley follows in 'old man's' footsteps

Brett Kelley flat-lined after an infection attacked his heart. But that would not derail the young man's goals of becoming a distinguished soldier and a lawyer like his father, high-profile Minnesota attorney Doug Kelley.