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Friday, June 7, 2013

Top-5 Harley Earl's design in 1950s

1927 to 1959 was the golden era of General Motors. This was the period when Harley J. Earl started as Vice President of the Art and Color Division and gave birth to the modern notion of car design. Harley Earl, generally considered the father of American automotive design, was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1893. In the late 1920s, Earl's design talent caught the eye of General Motors Chairman Alfred Sloan, who offered him a position directing the styling of all GM car lines. Earl accepted, moved to Detroit, and soon wielded unprecedented control over GM's new product development.

The Father of American Automotive 
Design, Harley J. Earl (1893-1969). 
 (Picture from: http://www.post-gazette.com/)
During Earl's 31-year career with the company, General Motors reigned supreme as an industry leader. Under his direction, designers and stylists pioneered countless innovations which propelled the company to the forefront of automotive design.

Earl was responsible for the design of the modern American car while at General Motors in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s when the 'stock car' was born,' according to an automotive historian. His innovative methods for creating a design, then concept, then production automobile, completely changed the old fashioned utilitarian way of automotive construction. Clay models were used to form the car and to understand the abilities and flaws of the creation.

5. 1956 Pontiac Club de Mer
The Pontiac Club de Mer was a purpose-built, concept car that was unveiled at the General Motors Motorama in 1956 to celebrate GM's commitment to futuristic design. The brainchild of GM engineer-designer, Harley Earl (Paul Gillian was also involved being the Pontiac Studio head at the time), the "de Mer" was a two door sport Roadster that incorporated innovative breakthrough styling like a sleek, low-profile body encasing a large powerplant, a design trend used widely in LSR (land speed record) trials at Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah during the 1950s. One Club de Mer prototype was constructed and unveiled, along with another -scale model, in Miami, Florida. As per GM's "kill order", it was scrapped in 1958.
Martin Martino's 1956 Pontiac Club de Mer recreation. (Picture from: http://www.kustomrama.com/)
The overall styling of the body was a smooth, non-undulating profile, similar to an American supersonic jet fighter, with virtually no protrusions or recesses of any kind save for the out-vents on the leading edge of both doors, and the fin. The vehicle had no bumpers, a common feature on most concepts, and the door handles were quite small. On a human scale, its most alarming feature was that it had a very low profile at just under 39 inch (990.6 mm).

Under the hood lay Pontiac's brand new V-8 engine, the 287 OHV, which was unveiled the year prior. Called the Strato Streak, it was GM's most powerful engine by 1955 and ushered in Pontiac s high-performance image with the Bonneville, Grand Prix and GTO. This high-output power plant was modified with a high-lift cam and fitted with two four-barrel carburetors to coax power up to a mighty 300 bhp (220 kW). The rear wheels were driven by a rear mounted transaxle, used later in Pontiac's new compact, the 1961 Tempest, on a DiDion Type rigid rear axle with independent suspension.

4. 1956 Oldsmobile Golden Rocket
In the 1950s, nobody created new concept cars like General Motors. They flat out ruled the roost when it came to producing opulent, over-the-top prototype dream cars- And they actually designed separate, one-off creations for their multiple divisions each year, from Chevrolet right on up to Cadillac.

Case in point is the Olds Golden Rocket, a metallic gold sporty two seater which first appeared at the 1956 GM Motorama and was used at many other auto shows, which was styled to resemble a rocket. The Rocket had a fiberglass body with nerf-like built in bumpers that give an overall rocket effect. It was powered with a 234 CID, 275 horsepower Rocket V8 engine and weighs 2,500 pounds.
1956 Oldsmobile Golden Rocket. (Picture from: http://www.worthpoint.com/)
The interior was no less radical featuring blue and gold leather upholstery, and an industry-first remote operated tilt steering wheel with the speedometer was mounted in the center of the two-spoked steering wheel. The Rocket’s  cabin was dominated by a sweeping center console with aircraft inspired control levers. Also of note were the roof panels, which individually raised on either side when the driver or passenger exited from their swiveling and 3″ lifting bucket seats. After removing their rocketship lap belts of course.

3. 1954 Oldsmobile F-88
The Oldsmobile F-88 is one of the most historically significant vehicles of its era and considered by many automotive historians to be a great expression of automotive design from the 1950s Golden Age. Designed during 1952-1953, around the same time as the first Motorama Corvette, the preliminary sketches of the F-88 came from veteran designer Bill Lange.
1954 Oldsmobile F-88. (Picture from: http://www.conceptcarz.com/)
The final deisgn was done in the main Oldsmobile studio under the direction of Art Ross. A very gifted designer, Ross is given credit for the 1941 Cadillac eggcrate ‘tombstone' grill, the World War II Wildcat tank destroyer, and the 'rocket' beltline for the '59 Oldsmobile. The interior of the Oldsmobile was designed by Jack Humbert (who later moved on to become Pontiac's chief designer).
Rear view of 1954 Oldsmobile F-88. (Picture from: http://www.conceptcarz.com/)
The Oldsmobile F-88 featured a Rocket 88 V8, 4 speed automatic hydromatic transmission, power windows and door latches, bullet tail lights, large vertical exhaust outlets for its ‘Rocket' V-8, and a distinguished wide-mouth grille. The F-88 never went into production due to that sabotage combined with lukewarm Corvette sales. The 1954 Oldsmobile F-88 was strictly ever a dream car.

2. 1953 Chevrolet Corvette C1
The Corvette was Chevrolet's answer to the demands made by returning military GI's coming back from Europe who were searching for a suitable sports car similar to the those in the European market.

In 1953 the Corvette was debuted at the Motorama display at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City. It was conceived by Harley J. Earl. It was a two seat convertible built by GM aimed at capturing the small car market from manufacturers like Jaguar and MG. All 1953 Corvettes were convertibles with black canvas tops, Polo white with red interiors, and built by hand.
1953 Chevrolet Corvette C1. (Picture from: http://www.gminsidenews.com/)
Power came from an existing Chevrolet 235 cubic inch 6 cylinder engine. Modifications were done to it such as a three carburetor design and dual exhaust which resulted in higher horsepower ratings. The 150 hp 'Blue Flame Special' engine was paired with a a2-speed automatic gearbox. The first twenty-five vehicles used the standard Chevrolet 'baby moon' passenger car wheel covers due to a shortage of wheel covers.

1. 1951 Buick LeSabre Concept
Clearly showing aircraft influence in styling and engineering, the Buick LeSabre was constructed of aluminum and lightweight cast magnesium. Billed as a rolling engineering laboratory, the LeSabre had 12-volt electrics (most cars then were 6-volts), a torque converter automatic transmission with an oil cooler, fuel injection, a strong, chrome-molydenum frame, built-in hydraulic jacks, a rain-activated folding top, a jet-like air intake and prominent tail fins. The 1951 Buick LeSabre served as an icon for GM's cars for the remainder of the decade.
1951 Buick LeSabre Concept. (Picture from: http://corvette-concepts.tripod.com/)
Rear view of 1951 Buick LeSabre Concept. (Picture from: http://www.conceptcarz.com/)
Designed by Harley J. Earl's studio with styling cues from jet fighter planes and used by him for years as an everyday driver, the LeSabre offered a preview of the aircraft styling that followed in the 1950s. The 1951 LeSabre contained such technological features as a dual gasoline and alcohol fuel system and a moisture sensor which would raise the convertible top if it began raining when the owner was away from the car. (See another Harley Earl's creations.) *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | ABSOLUTE AUTOMOBILES | CONCEPT CARZ | JALOPY JOURNAL | HOWSTUFFWORKS]
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