A closer look at the 2012 Automotive Hall of Fame inductees

Back in July at a gala event held at the official Concours d'Elegance of America in Plymouth, Michigan, the Automotive Hall of Fame inducted four new members into its illustrious ranks. This year's inductees were Tom Gale, Chuck Jordan, James Couzens and Albert Kahn, each of whom played a big part in shaping the successes of Detroit's Big Three Automakers.

Gale has spent his whole life around the auto industry, being born and raised in the car-manufacturing town of Flint, Michigan. His father, Gale Sr., was an engineer at GM's Buick Division, and his grandfather worked on Buick's assembly line. However, it was at Chrysler where Gale would ultimately make his mark, joining the brand after he graduated with a degree in design from Michigan State university in 1966.

Motor Trend describes Gale as the "man who changed the face of the U.S. auto industry," and the publication has a point. Gale's rides have been trendsetters consistently over the past five decades, and he has constantly dictated the course of popular car design through his works, even bringing Chrysler back from the brink with nick-of-time home-run models. In the '90s, Gale was responsible for the iconoclast designs of the Viper and Prowler, and in 2002, he made rear-wheel drive popular again with the 300 C.

Chuck Jordan also had a big hand in designing the cars and trucks that set the bar for future models. Hired by GM in 1927, Jordan, who passed away in 2010 at 83 years old, was a key player in making cars look less like carriages and more like the sleek machines we see on the road today.

Jordan was famous for his motto "no boring cars," and it showed in his flashy designs for such gamechangers as the 1959 Cadillac Eldorado and 92 STS, as well as the opulently original 1963 Buick Riviera and '98 Reatta. Luxury cars that looked as if they had all the bells and whistles were Jordan's forte, having crafted the identities of these two brands with the use of showy fins and luscious curves.

James Couzens may not have designed the cars, but his $25,000 investment into Ford Motor Company back in 1915 helped the small automotive company explode into the powerhouse it is today. Henry Ford's famous production and employment model was perfected by Couzens, who came up with the $5-work day that made Ford profitable. Four years after his initial investment, Henry bought out all the shareholder's of Ford Motor Company, and Couzens walked away with roughly $29 million.

Couzens real impact on the auto industry came from his life as a politician. He served as mayor of Detroit from 1918 to 1922, and went on to work in Congress from 1922 until his death in 1936. In politics, Couzens championed the Motor City and also worked to help the U.S. workforce by joining numerous committees that fought for worker's rights.

Another friend to all three of the big American makes was inductee Albert Kahn. He not only designed numerous landmark buildings throughout Michigan, but he also created facilities that changed the way cars were made. Along with factories for Ford and Chrysler that were used for much of the past century, he also designed the original World Headquarters for GM, an icon of modern industrial architecture, and the glamorous residences of many members of the Ford family before his death in 1942.

Inductees to the Automotive Hall of Fame come from many different time periods, backgrounds and countries. Do you agree with this years crop? Leave your response below: