Presentation by the League of Retired Automotive Designers

The American Orphan was the League’s 2011 project in cooperation with the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum. The challenge was to design a future orphan concept vehicle that might have been, had the factory doors not closed 25 or more years ago.

Participants included: Bob Ackerman, Robert ‘Bob’ Barnes (Ford), Rich Beck (Ford), Jerry Brochstein (GM), George Camp (GM), Virgil Exner, Jr. (Ford), Wayne Kady (GM), Darwin Hawthorne (Ford), John Houlihan (GM), Roger Hughet (GM), Rolph Kneefel (Ford), Clark Lincoln (GM), Bud Magaldi (Ford), Bob Marcks (Chrysler), (GM),Dave McIntosh (GM), Bill Michalak (GM), Howard ‘Buck’ Mook (Ford), Bill Moraniec (Ford), Joe Papai (Chrysler), Steve Pasteiner (GM), Dennis Reardon (Ford), Russ Russinoff (GM), Stuart ‘Stu’ Shuster (GM), Rick Wells (Ford), and Bernie Smith (GM).

  1. Steve Tremulis

    What a thrill it is seeing some of Alex Tremulis’ designs updated to inspire future generations. The Cord, Crosley, Bantam and of course, Tucker, all look fresh and new. As Alex said while looking back on his career, “I’ve sunk more ships than there were ships built”, so he was probably also the father of more orphans than there were orphans built!

    These youngsters still can create new ideas and put their imaginations down on paper for the rest of us to dream their visions. To all the designers: Thanks for keeping these legends alive! And a big THANK YOU to the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum!!!

  2. The Ypsilanti Orphan Car Show is one of my absolute favorite events of the year. It’s great to see wonderful additions such as this, which make it even more enjoyable.

  3. John M. Mellberg

    Congratulations to the League of Retired Automotive Designers! The American Orphan project may have been their best showing to date! Such a great diversity of vehicle choices and their design. Great job fellas and thanks to Ron VanGelderen for providing and Dean’s Garage for getting these images posted for all to see and admire. John M. Mellberg

  4. Roger Roslowski

    A lot of great work went into all of those designs, but my favorite is the Cord 912!! Where do I sign on the dotted line?!?!

  5. Virgil Exner, Jr.

    All of us “Major Leaguers” need to thank Ron VanGelderen’s tireless work and Jack Miller’s Hudson Heritage Museum for the great time we all enjoyed in participating in our favorite pastime.

  6. Walter Gomez

    They all look great!

  7. Thank you Gary, for this great and enjoyable presentation to all of us carnuts. Fascinating to see these legends of automobile design come together and create new visions of all the Orphan Marques. I certainly wish all of these brands would indeed return, but it is nice to dream!! This was a wonderful addition to your site. Thank You!! I enjoy coming to visit your site often. I wish I had the talent of these fine fellows.

  8. Dave Cummins

    Wonderful to see what we can all still do! One thing we as designers have GOT to do is remember that nothing we put forth for the public to enjoy is anything less than the quality of the original product we want to follow up on. I also enjoyed seeing several people I know and used to work with. Hang in there, and keep the flame burning! Dave Cummins

  9. Anthony O'Neill

    No Pontiacs or Oldsmobiles?

  10. Don Leblanc

    Just fabulous, Thank you for posting this Gary, I really enjoy visiting Dean’s Garage for the
    past and present of design.
    Don Leblanc

  11. allen ornes

    That was really enjoyable. Seeing pictures of some of my ole mates and to see evidence that they are still doing the business – geat stuff.
    Thanks for a look at what ‘could have been’ part of our future cars. Neat project.

  12. Ryan Smith

    My grandpa Bernie led me to this website to check out his recreation of the tucker which I had never even heard of in my lifetime but I’m glad I checked this out because I’ve always loved looking at his designs and it’s cool to see others as well. Keep up the good work everyone!

  13. Beautiful. It’s such a shame modern design doesn’t touch this. I love George Camp’s Crosley — I want one! Jon Perkins’ Kaiser Darrin would have Dutch’s approval. I love the recognizably Darrin tail lights, and the ol’ sliding door. But what’s this — no Darrin dip?! C’mon…the door’s gotta have a Darrin dip! 😀

  14. Antony Grade

    Good to see the talent is still there from these stars of automobile design. A special hello to Buck, Rolph and Dennis, who inspired me as a young designer back at Ford in the UK in the ’80s!!!

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