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.