Harry Bradley 1936-2023

In Harry’s Transportation class at Art Center, I asked him about how to use velum. I’d heard that GM Designers used it, and I’d never tried it. He created this rendering as the whole class watched, making comments along the way.

I also remember that at the beginning of the last semester (fall, 1972) he told us that there just weren’t going to be any car design jobs when we graduated. (The Big Three hadn’t hired in several semesters). That was discouraging news, but I’d come that far and might as well see it through. I wondered if I’d end up being one of several ACCD graduates that were working in local art stores selling art supplies because they couldn’t find jobs for one reason or another. It ended up that they did offer jobs after all, and I was made an offer by GM which I readily accepted.

Several years later I contacted Harry to ask him about freelance opportunities. I flew into LAX, and he picked me up in his Mercedes. We drove around and talked about what I was up against. I greatly appreciated his candor and honestly.

Harry was unmatched as an instructor, illustrator, and designer.

There are several posts on Dean’s Garage featuring Harry’s work: Harry Bradley

There is a nice blog post on Just-A-Car-Guy (May 21, 2023) that features his Hot Wheels creations.

The following video by Luciano Bove is a fitting tribute to Harry Bradley. Posted by permission.

  1. Kelly Sharpton

    Sorry for the loss of Harry. I enjoyed his work in the magazine over the years

  2. Harry Bradley was my first inspiration as a kid reading Motor Trend. His designs left a lasting impression on me.

  3. john manoogian II

    Gary, I was at ACCDD just after you in 73-74. Had harry in my last 2 semesters as a Senior. Because of his unique teaching style, my classmates were intimidated by him. Harry took me under his wing when I told him I wanted to work at GM, and no where else. He made it clear to the class and myself that there wouldn’t be any jobs because of the energy crises in 1974.

    He was an awesome instructor. He was able to draw from memory, any car. Upside down at times! I enjoyed his knowledge, skill and talent long before I met him from all the work he had published in the various car magazines. I felt blessed when I came to the realization that I would have him as an instructor. He helped me immeasurably assembling my portfolio for my job interviews. The rest was history.

    I owe him a debt of gratitude and am so grateful he was a part of my education.

    A legend that will truly be missed. RIP Harry.

  4. Dennis F. Otto

    Harry had his own unique STYLE both as a person and with his excellent drawing and rendering skills. I particularly enjoyed his dry sense of humor which showed up many times in “reflections” in his renderings. Those “reflections” were most notable in his illustrations of Chrysler products 🙂

    Harry along with Strother Mac Minn and Mr. Ted Youngkin (fellow former Marine) were the 3 most influential instructors for me at ACCD. All 3 were simply superb in their own ways while teaching we young uns how to think creatively to solve design problems; in addition to helping develop each student’s own sketching ability to help “$ELL” the concepts being shown to clients/management.

    R.I.P. Harry…..a inspirational designer and FINE instructor to many ACCD students over his long career! DFO

  5. In the late sixties Chuck Jordan had a small group of “Shock Troops” that he would send around to work on various design projects that were either in trouble or in need of stimulation. Harry was in the group and I really enjoyed working with him. Graham Bell was a member of the group also. I remember one experience working on what would become the Chevrolet Nova, a car that somehow got finished but without a great deal of artistic grace.

    Harry was very skilful and very serious, he shortly left GM Deisgn and went on to Chrysler where I have been told he had a strong influence on the Plymouth Barracuda.
    From then I think he went on to teach, he certainly had the credentials.


    We lost a great automobile design icon. RIP Harry

  7. John Sanderson

    He was a true legend and mentor in so many ways. Very sad to hear of his passing, but it was understood that he was a consumate car guy, going back to early rods & customs.

  8. Jason Houston

    As a professional model creator, builder and designer, I confess I never saw a Hotwheels that ever replicated anything but a pantographed copy of a customized AMT plastic kit, painted in goofy AMT Kandy Kolors.

    Junk from wanna-bes like Palmer, Premier and the 1970s and 1980s trash from the smoking ruins of AMT and Revell, do nothing but insult the efforts and integrity of those who pioneered the plastic model car industry and made it what it was in its heyday.

    Even F&F Mold turned out finer work in three-inch plastic than anything Mattell ever made, and their cars were given away free.

    I know I’m going to get an avalanche of hate mail from Hotwheels experts telling me how rare and valuable their stuff is, so my apologies to you all. I’ve known people who collect paper milk bottle caps. To each his own.

    I’ll stick with my 1949 Oldsmobile Futuramics, 1963 Corvette Sting Rays and 1967 Rambler Marlin.

  9. Steve Hansen

    I’d been drawing pictures of cars in elementary school for some time, but it was Motor Trend’s April 1966 “Special STYLING Issue” which encouraged me to pursue my interest in car design (that and the small Art Center ad in the same issue).

    I noticed then that Harry Bradley’s new-car sketches frequently included a license plate as one of their details. Several years later, at Art Center, I realized that “DPJ 756” was Harry’s own California plate.

    I’ll always remember Harry’s GM stories, especially one in which he graphically described the results of a mid-1960s pickup truck crash test in which the cab’s rear window apparently came loose and cleanly decapitated the unfortunate crash dummy behind the wheel. True or not, it demonstrated Harry’s ability to command our attention!

    He will always remain, along with Strother MacMinn, one of the most important influences on my automotive career. RIP, Harry.

  10. Joyce Bradley

    Harry was born in Boston, Mass on 5-25-1936….not 1939. He was almost 87 at the time of his death on May 13, 2023.
    Thank you. I corrected the text.—Gary

  11. Peter Davis

    I graduated ACCD in 1981 and was classmates with a variety of notable designers who have made their mark on the world. Thank you Luciano Bove for the video tribute. Luciano and I worked together for 10 years at Fiat Centro Stile, and we had many great experiences together.

    I was able to meet Harry Bradley at Art Center Europe in the late 90s, once during my many visits there from Turin. He remembered me, and we had a great time chatting about the current state of car design and car design students. Harry established the quality standards for professional design expression, and he has been a role model for my latest career role as a car design professor of practice at LTU.

  12. David Heller

    That photo is pretty special to me. I’m the student standing, receiving Harry’s critique. He was one of the most intimidating and challenging instructors, yet supportive and inspiring! He encouraged and allowed me to think outside the box in both automotive and product design classes. He correctly predicted that I would become a fabricator due to my 3D presentations. I’m grateful for the time and energy he shared with us at ACCD. May he R.I.P.
    David Helller
    Transportation Design 1974

  13. Darin Smith

    With a “Heavy Heart” my Condolences to the family of Mr. Harry Bradley as I am finding out of his passing last month. As one who deals in ‘Hot wheels’ around 8 years now in Birmingham Al. I wondered about him for years and back in ’18 for the 50th I wanted to go to the convention in L.A. to see him/Larry Wood/Tom Daniel/Otto Khune and Jun Imai mainly, but that did not happen as I asked around about him as I heard he was in NC. Bradley is not only a “Legend” for ‘Hot Wheels ‘ alone but for being at GM & Plymouth as well. I would cherish as a Memento from Ms. Joyce even a pencil of his or item as his legacy is an important part of my life. Thanks-Smith’Hot Wheels guy’ Die cast Bham Al.

  14. David Carp

    Thank you for this tribute, and thank you to Luciano for the wonderful video.
    I remember Harry’s BMW 7 Series with flames and P7s parked in front of the hillside campus during my time at ArtCenter (1988-1991)… Later I joined BMW and worked on some 7 Series projects, yet never forgot that car.
    I remember Harry sketching with the end of his color-coordinated walking crutch, creating wonderful artwork with it on the blackboard in class.
    And last but not least, I remember Harry telling the whole class after his public critique of some of my work in 7th term, “Based on what I see here, I don’t know how David is going to succeed as a designer. But somehow I am sure that he will anyway.” Or words to that effect… Thank you Harry.

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