Albrecht Graf von Schlitz genannt von Goertz von Wrisberg (en: Count Albrecht von Goertz, widely known as Albrecht Goertz) (12 January 1914 – 27 October 2006) was a German industrial designer who designed cars for BMW including the BMW 503 and BMW 507. He also was an early contributor to the design of the legendary Toyota 2000GT.
He was born in Brunkensen in Lower Saxony, the second of three children Rudolf Graf von Schlitz gen. von Goertz und Freiherr von Wrisberg (1884–1933) and of Else Meyer (1882–1968). However, his elder brother Eberhard died, and while Albrecht did not technically inherit the honorific, he began to call himself "The Count," and is often referred to that way.
After attending school, Goertz was apprenticed to Deutsche Bank in Hamburg and then in London at a private bank, Helbert Wagg & Co, but his prospects were not good, so in 1936 he emigrated to the United States of America. He eventually moved to Los Angeles and worked at a car wash and in a factory making aircraft engines. In 1938 Goertz rented a garage and showroom and modified Ford Model A and B models. On a Mercury chassis, he built a two-door coupe called the "Paragon". This was exhibited at the World Exhibition in New York in 1939.
Studebaker and BMW designs
Goertz joined the US Army in 1940 and served for five years. After leaving the Army he drove the Paragon to New York and while driving it he accidentally encountered Raymond Loewy, the famous car designer. Loewy invited Goertz to his office, sent him to college to learn about design and later gave him a job in the Studebaker studio in Indiana.
Goertz in 1953 set up his own design business and got to know Max Hoffman, BMW's main importer in America. Hoffman knew of BMW's plans to build a sports car and suggested that Goertz should contact BMW in Munich. Goertz then designed both the BMW 503 and the BMW 507, both of 1955.
Other car designs
Goertz claimed that he worked for Porsche, although this 'work' seems to have been an unsolicited 'design' submission for the 901, which was rejected. However he was employed as a consultant to Nissan - visiting the factory intermittently over a limited period, mainly to instruct in full-size clay modelling. He also carried out consultation work on a two-seater sports car project for Nissan, called the Datsun Coupe 1500 in prototype and debuted as the Nissan Silvia CSP311). Goertz then worked with Nissan, in collaboration with company technical partner Yamaha Motor Company, to develop a world-class sports car. By the time the prototype was ready for display in 1965, Nissan had abandoned the project, leaving partner Yamaha to offer the car to Toyota, then perceived as the most conservative of the Japanese car manufacturers. Looking to add its own touch to what became the iconic 2000GT, Toyota tasked designer Satoru Nozaki to finalize the car’s narrow-waisted shape, clearly influenced by British and Italian gran turismo designs of the day.
Von Goertz's last design was a grand piano for Steinway & Sons to celebrate the 125th anniversary of their Hamburg factory.
Goertz married Julie Freiin von Bodenhausen (Baroness of Bodenhausen) (1902–1951) but they separated in 1942. He then married Susanne Nettel (1925-) in 1957 and they had a son, Peter Joseph, who was born in 1959.