Who is Dean? Dean’s Garage is dedicated to my dad. It was his middle name (and mine).

Dean’s Garage is dedicated to my dad. His middle name was Dean (and so is mine).

Dean’s Garage is dedicated to an age of optimism and craftsmanship that is long since past. To the dreams and hopes of a bygone era. Perhaps the posts on this blog will stir something within and revitalize a neglected spirit of creativity.

About me. I grew up in Riverside, California a few miles from the Riverside International Raceway. It was closed in 1988 and then bulldozed to make way for a mall. Shame. That was the only thing Riverside had going for it. Now we have one too many malls and not enough RIRs.

I graduated from the Art Center College of Design when it was still in Los Angeles. I worked at General Motors as an Exterior Designer when it was called Design Staff. That’s after it was called Art & Colour Section and Styling, but before it was renamed Design Center. I worked under Bill Mitchell, Irv Rybicki, and Chuck Jordan. I worked in Pontiac, Buick, Olds, and Cadillac studios. Dave Holls picked a sketch of mine off the wall that became the 1992 Oldsmobile Achieva. Studio Chiefs I worked under include Ron Hill, John Schinella, Jerry Hirschberg, Wayne Kady, Bill Porter, John Perkins, David North, and Dick Ruzzin. I have been freelancing DBA Performance Design since 1988 (Graphic and Industrial Design; Publications, print collateral; marketing, Technical Illustration).

If you have something that you think would be appropriate to post on Dean’s Garage, please contact me.

Gary D. Smith

What is in Dean’s Garage?

1965 Corvette Coupe (under construction)

1965 Corvette Coupe (under construction)

1971 Corvette LT1

1971 Corvette LT!

208Groesbeck12030789Corvette

1989 Corvette Z51 6-speed

IMG_20140719_182937509_HDR

2001 Corvette Z06

89TTA

1989 Pontiac Turbo Trans Am

img_2755

1992 Achieva SCX

61Apache

1961 Chevrolet Apache

Jubilee_5639

1953 Ford Jubilee

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”—John 5:24

Red
Blue
15 Comments
  1. Hi Gary; This is a new look to your site ?

    Also I was curious as to the history of your logo mark, The red white and blue circle with the jet in it? I think I saw that on a GM display somewhere.Thanks, Don.

  2. Don,
    The old WordPress theme was heavily modified but no longer compatible with the new version of WordPress. So the whole thing needed to be updated. This new theme is very flexible and allows for 3 columns, although I prefer a design that is more of a design statement in itself. But to develop a new theme is prohibitively time consuming. As far as the logo goes, I “borrowed” it from GM; it is the old GM Firebird logo that first appeared on the tail fin of the Firebird One. It is used on the helipad at the GM Tech Center. Copy and paste this 42.512121,-83.044796 into http:www.maps.google.com.
    Gary

  3. Jim Brady

    Hi Gary, I really enjoy your site and often share it with my car enthusiast friends. I was just reading your note about the site being dedicated to your father. I have often look at the photo on banner noting that I recognized Dean at the wheel of the Corvair GT (?). Should I assume this is the same Dean? I worked at GM Photographic in the 60s before coming to Design and sometimes would chat with him about the time he spent photographing in Styling before Mitchell created his own photo group. Your dad was a grand guy. Jim Brady

  4. Jim,
    My dad always indulged my sometimes misplaced car enthusiasm, took me to the Riverside International Raceway, helped me get through Art Center, was co-driver on the trip to Michigan when I was hired by GM. On my first day at Design Staff, Chuck Jordan took us both on a tour. His middle name was Dean, same as mine. But he wasn’t in the photo of the Monza GT. He retired in the ’70s from Alcan Aluminum in Riverside, California and died in 1980.
    Thanks for your thoughts.
    Gary

  5. Gary–

    This is my first perusal of your site, and it’s a bulls-eye as far as my personal interests are concerned. I’m going to have lots of fun wading through this assemblage of automobilia, and my car design students (many of whom are sadly lacking in historical perspective pre-1980 or so) will be eventually assigned written reports on historical topics, with your site being a primary reference and jumping-off point.

    My enthusiasm is once again refueled!

    –Paul Wilczynski
    Academy of Art University

  6. Sam Rondone

    Dean,
    Thanks for this excellent informative site & your input on the Achieva SCX. In 1992 I bought a new teal SCX like yours & installed a 1991 Cutlass W-31 PROM to raise the rev limit from 6,800 to 7,200 RPM’s to match the performance of the 1991 Cutlass W-31 which Hot Rod Magazine ran through the 1/4 mile in 14.7 seconds at 97 mph. The 1992 SCX also was tested at 67 mph though the slalom by I forget which magazine, the quickest of ALL 1992 production cars. Beautiful styling, very quick, extremely agile, 30mpg average with mine with the AC on, one of my favorite performance cars of many to date. I do wish it had come with the Rocket Parts Torsen differential, rear disc brakes, & upgraded apolstery. Congradulations on a job very well done with the SCX!
    A fellow enthusiast,
    Sam Rondone

  7. The “Firebird logo” was also painted on the helipad at the modern GM Engineering Building, constructed for Rochester Products Division in Rochester, NY. This four story glass cube (500-600 people capacity) was built in the mid-80s. I helped with the specs for the computer network wiring. This is now a Delphi R&D location and the helipad is still there. The building is visible from the intersection of I-390 and the New York State Thruway in Henrietta, NY. (https://maps.google.com: 43.044055,-77.651925)

  8. Norm James

    Gary,
    I’m pretty sure the “Firebird” logo came from GM’s business airline fleet which pre-dated the Firebirds.

    We had an occasion in the early 60’s to have a bunch of us ride one of their planes, between several Michigan airports, to rank accelleration rates on take-off on their suitability for public mass transportation systems. It was a nice change of pace.

    The new site format looks good.

    Norm

  9. Melissa Belevender

    Hello Gary,
    Just came across your website while doing some research on designers my father worked with. He is Norbert Ostrowski and I will ask him to contribute some first-person accounts of automobile styling, from the 1960’s forward. He still gets together with other retired designers over coffee. He has some great stories to share. Recently he was telling me about the early concept drawings of AMC’s Pacer. Thanks for your wonderful online archive!
    Melissa Belevender

  10. David R.North

    Had the chance to recommend Dean,s Garage to soon car guys,
    Told them about Gary Smith who designed some great cars while working with us, every one loved the little red Olds you did,the boss of Olds Bill Lane raved about it on a plane ride back from the Chicago auto show,he told my wife this was a sure winner. You were well liked by everyone and we were sad when you left,
    One of the real good guys.
    Snowing here in Montana,Pat &I are thinking sunny in AZ!
    Take care Gary
    David

  11. Allen Ornes

    You have a unique site where I can spend many hours. Great fun to see the sketches and read comments from designers I have worked with or knew at Art Center. Thanks for all your work to keep this going.

  12. rich dahl

    Nice site, Dean!

    Found you through a search for Ted Youngkin, an old instructor I had while at Art Center in ’91-’92. Still use the skills I was trained in from him in perspective class, etc. Thankful for the education I received.

    Funny, I recall taking shop class with a lot of Trans majors. Was great running the mill, etc.

    Cheers & keep up the good work. Loved the Lemans vid.
    Rich Dahl

  13. Steve Stitle

    Dean,

    Just ran across your site. My father was a GM pilot from the 1950s through the late 70s. At one time they had 70 aircraft including one seaplane. GM planes were not identified as such for fear of vandalism—they just had your logo on the tail. (Search “images” General Motors Air Transportation Services for a photo of a General Dynamics Convair with the tail logo.) The Firebird designers stole the logo from GMATS but the pilots were proud of its use!

    Steve Stitle

  14. j e

    Hi Dean,

    In 1977 the firm for which I worked transported 12 of GM’s “idea” cars from Detroit to the New York Coliseum for an auto show in tribute to the retirement of Bill Mitchell. A few weeks later I was treated to a visit of the underground Tech Center design area and garage vaults by Dick Henderson. There I saw my favorite of the collection, the racing Stingray Corvette built on the mule SS chassis. The Stingray was in one vault along with a Corsair Monza GT, Monza SS, Y Job, a Jaguar Mitchell had modified by filling in fender seams, and a couple more I don’t remember. I sat in the Stingray and when entering noticed a plaque on the bulkhead behind the driver’s seat. It was the grill badge Mitchell designed for the Automobile Racing Club of America depicting a frontal, action view of a Blower Bentley. Years later, I stumbled onto two of these badges and still have them, along with the Press Kit of that show and my Tech Center Pass.

    Walking through the design studios with Dick, through one shop, mechanics were working on a heavily modified Camaro (maybe it was a Firebird) with a Ferrari V-12 drivetrain, four-pipe exhaust system, brass-lined doorjambs and Ferrari instrument panel. The front license plate said Pegasus. Some time later, I saw this car sitting in Mitchell’s driveway with a For Sale sign! Wonder where it is now.

    Best regards,
    j e lineback

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