PETER HORBURY, Volvo's head of design, wanted to be a car designer from the age of nine.
But the teachers at his school in the north of England wanted him to consider banking or insurance.
'Career seminars were a nightmare and school was like ploughing my way through the obstacle course of education until I could get to do what I wanted,' he says.
Horbury was determined. He wrote to car manufacturers for advice about getting started. He studied industrial design for four years at Newcastle College of Art & Design and won a Chrysler scholarship to study automotive design at the Royal College of Art in London.
His first design job was with Chrysler UK. He worked on the Horizon and Alpine models under the direction of Art Blakeslee, who is now design chief at Citroen.
'I was a Blakeslee babe and I spent three very enjoyable years with Chrysler before moving to Ford in 1977 and getting involved in the Sierra design project,' he says.
After Ford, Horbury became a design consultant to Volvo. He spent time in Sweden and the Netherlands before moving to the UK. There he set up a design division at MGA, the Coventry-based engineering and prototype company.
Horbury became Volvo's design director in 1991. Since then, he has had responsibility for the facelifted 900 series, the new S40/V40, the revised S70/V70 and the C70 coupe.
When he took over the department there were 70 people employed on three projects. The design team's average age was 40. Today it is 30, and a staff of 130 is working on nine major and three smaller projects. A further 30 staff will join soon.
'Things are changing dramatically at Volvo and there is now an understanding within the company that functionality is compatible with beauty,' he says.
'Traditionally, Volvo has been very strong on function and our station wagons are the epitome of this. They are highly efficient load carriers and the most effective way to carry a lot of things is in a box, which explains their shape.
'The challenge for my department is to make an efficient wagon which is also beautiful. This is more difficult than designing a coupe where the main considerations are aesthetic. For example, with the C70 we kept the toy and threw away the box.'
Horbury's work is his hobby, but he also enjoys cooking when he has the time. He is married, with two teenage sons whom he describes as 'complete car nuts.'