Text and photos complements of the car’s owner and builder, Dave Crook.
Over the past few years, I’ve enjoyed receiving and reading the very informative articles posted on your website that arrive via E-mail. It recently occurred to me that my latest design project might be of interest to your site followers. Enclosed are several pictures of my 1969 Grand Prix, built as a tribute to the late car design icon, Bill Mitchell, Vice President of Design at General Motors.
As once stated in an Autolife article, Bill Mitchell’s best work combined a sleek, sharp-edged appearance and the sensation of great power and all-out speed. This six year car project captures the essence of a car Bill Mitchell would have loved to call his own. Let me tell you a little about the story behind this car. In 1968, I was working for the Fisher Body Division of General Motors as an instructor in the GM Training Center in Denver, Colorado. For those who may be unaware, at that time, GM had 30 Training Centers around the country and each division of GM had an instructor in each center for training dealership personnel in the repair of GM vehicles.
I had just finished building a restyled 1967 Pontiac Catalina 2+2 which I drove back to Detroit for our annual new model training. The chief engineer of Fisher Body (Carl Hedean) wanted to show it to Bill Mitchell, so we drove over to Styling from the Fisher Body headquarters at the Tech Center. Mr. Mitchell came down to the parking garage with several of his executive designers to view the car. Long story short, he offered me a job at styling as a Technical Stylist or possibly a clay modeler. With Fisher Body’s approval, I accepted the offer. Anyone who has followed Mr. Mitchell’s career knows that he built many restyled production cars for himself as well as several one-off cars. I don’t believe I ever saw a completely stock production car in his parking spot in the executive garage.
Since he made such a major change in my career, and the fact that I have built many restyled cars over the years myself, I thought it was time to build one as a tribute to Mr. Mitchell. The car was designed by Harry Bradley, a former designer at G. M. Styling, the founder of Mattel Hot Wheels, as well as a long time instructor at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA.
I have found after showing the car at several Concours’ shows this summer that some people do not realize many of the modifications that are done to the car:
- Roof has been lowered 2-inches, but the windshield and rear window have been left full size.
- Bottom outboard corners of the rear window have been raised 3 inches.
- Doors have been lengthened 10 inches, eliminating the quarter windows, requiring just one long door glass.
- Upper front corner of door glass has been rounded and new moldings fabricated around the DLO (daylight opening).
- Front bumper has been redesigned with solid grille panels which open for cooling.
- One off headlights and parking lights have been fabricated using projector beam lights.
- Rear bumper and tail lights have been redesigned with quarter extensions eliminated.
- Plus many more minor modifications which will be subtly evident to 69 Grand Prix connoisseurs.
Also enclosed are some pictures of some of the other notable cars I have built over the years: a 1970 Firebird built in the early seventies,
a 1947 Ford convertible finished in the nineties (the car I wish I had in high school), and a 1990 Chevrolet 454SS pickup finished in 2005 (my shop truck). These are all Harry Bradley designed projects that, as he would say, were built around my shopping list.