Yet Another Missing Model.
by Terry Boyce, Society of Automotive Historians Member
Automotive author Terry Boyce is trying to help 81-year-old retired clay modeler Gene Watch find “his” 1968 Dow 1/4-scale concept car—or, at least, determine what happened to it. Designed by Virgil M. Exner, the sleek coupe was modeled in clay and finished in fiberglass by Gene, while he was the in-house clay modeler at the design and development firm Exner then operated with his son, Virgil Exner Jr., in Birmingham, Michigan.
Dow Chemical’s ad agency at the time, D’Arcy, ordered the 1968 Dow to promote products made by their client’s automotive division. Gene recalls, “Virgil gave three proposals to them—they picked the front end of one and the rear end of another, so he came to me to put together what they wanted and he took it back and they bought it.”
The 1968 Dow was featured (along with a completely different 1967 predecessor built by Creative Industries) in a November, 1967 Detroit Free Press article. It was later shown at an SAE meeting, and was probably pictured in Dow ads, too—although Boyce has yet to locate an example. Apparently, the 1968 Dow hasn’t been seen since ’68 or ’69. One rumor has it that after the model had served its purpose, it was taken home by an agency exec who stored it—still in its custom-made transport box—in his basement.
Serving primarily as a modeler, Gene worked in the auto industry for more than three decades. Before joining Exner in his independent venture, Gene had gained much experience, and developed many contacts, during stints at Ford, Chrysler, AMC, and Kaiser Jeep. When Exner began to scale back his operation in late 1967, the well-connected designer recommended Gene to General Motors Design. After hiring in there, Gene worked as a modeler on numerous Pontiac, Chevrolet and Oldsmobile programs, until his retirement in 1992.
Gene has many good memories of his years in the industry, but his time working for the senior Exner—whom he greatly admired—on the Dow car and other projects under development at the time still stands out as a highpoint. If any Dean’s Garage readers have information about the fate of the 1968 Dow concept model they’d like to share, Boyce says he’ll make sure it is relayed to Gene Watch.