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Dean’s Garage, The Future is Back presents the best posts along with new, unpublished content to commemorate the first ten years of

With an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look into GM Design from the ’50s through the ’80s, Dean’s Garage preserves a unique history through stories, quotes, and anecdotes told by designers, engineers, and sculptors.

These recollections describe what it was like to work in the studios, and tell of encounters with exceptionally creative, and often outrageous, fellow designers and managers.

To have been a designer at General Motors Design Staff was the realization of a life-long dream for myself and every designer who had the privilege of working there.

The era of design represented in this book—its champions, its unique time frame, and its long past historical context, will be especially significant to those who experienced it first hand.

This book had to be created. While there are myriads of stories that could be told, these, at least, will be preserved.


Contributors to the book

Bob Ackerman, Bunker Bradley, Larry Brinker, Robert Cumberford, Paul Deesen, Peter DeLorenzo, Jeff Denison, Allan Flowers, Andy Hansel, John Houlihan, Norm James, Michael Lamm, Clark Lincoln, Dennis Little, Geza Loczi, Pete Maier, Stan Mott, Richard Nesbitt, Mike Parris, Sheldon Payne, Tom Peloquin, Bill Porter, William Quan, Jim Ray, Dick Ruzzin, Tom Semple, Don Schwarz, Bernie Smith, John Thawley, Jim Van Orden, Ed Welburn, and Ron Will.


Back Cover Copy

Dean’s Garage, The Future is Back presents the best posts and new unpublished content to commemorate the first ten years of This exclusive, unique account features a behind-the-scenes look at GM Design from the ’50s through the ’80s.

The eclectic content contains first-person accounts by designers, sculptors, and engineers who worked in GM Design studios. Read about corporate politics, management styles, design development struggles, and personal encounters with Harley Earl, Bill Mitchell, Irv Rybicki, Chuck Jordan, Dave Holls, Ed Cole, John DeLorean, and others.

Dean’s Garage spotlights adventures on wheels, tales from the Inaugural Baja 1000, and automotive fiction, including stories from Road & Track magazine. Recollections from college days at the Art Center College of Design, a gallery of impressive studio art, GM group photos, and studio cartoons and quotes complete this wide-ranging, remarkable history.

Contributing authors include: Stan Mott, Norm James, Robert Cumberford, Peter DeLorenzo, Michael Lamm, Jim Van Orden, Mike Parris, Bill Porter, John Thawley, and Ed Welburn. Original illustrations and renderings by studio designers provide a window into an era that is long gone. Dean’s Garage has 334 color and grayscale photos, is fully indexed, and includes the 1988 GM Design Staff Directory.

About the Creator
Gary Dean Smith grew up in Riverside, California, home of the Riverside International Raceway. He attended the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, graduated in 1973, and began his career as a designer at General Motors Design Staff. After fifteen years at GM, Gary went west to Arizona and began a second graphic and industrial design career as Performance Design.


About the Book

ISBN: 78-1-7334493-0-4
8-1/2 x 11
294 Pages;
334 Grayscale and Color images
Includes the 1988 Design Staff Directory
Fully indexed

Cost: $65 including shipping and tax. Order information below.


Table of Contents and Introduction to Dean’s Garage, The Future is Back

Chapter Spreads Preview Dean’s Garage, The Future is Back 

How to Order:

Dean’s Garage, The Future is Back is a Print On Demand book, meaning they are printed one at a time and sent directly from the printer (Ingram). Please allow two–three weeks to receive your copy.

Print costs increased considerably on March 1, 2021.

Cost for one book: $65 including USPS shipping and tax (USA Only, by check). 

If you want to order more than two copies, contact me.

International buyers: Please contact me.

To Pay by check (USA Only), go to this page.

Dean’s Garage is available through Amazon. (Expensive!)


  1. Congratulations Gary on what seems to be a well designed and researched book.


  2. Jeff Denison

    Gary, Congratulations on completing the book, I know from your past work it will be outstanding! Look forward to receiving it and looking it over.
    Jeff Denison




  4. John Manoogian II

    “Just received my copy of Gary’s book, ‘Deans Garage The Future is Back’, and I can say without hesitation, it is awesome. It brought back so many memories, and has some photos I’ve never seen.

    We were all blessed to have worked in that organization during the period Gary captured perfectly. We worked with so many creative people. We worked hard and played hard. The book captures some of the antics that took place. In today’s world we probably would have been fired. I mocked up the Greyhound bus in the photo for Tom Semple’s return from his ‘bus vacation.’ Crazy times.

    I recommend Gary’s book for anyone that has an interest to get a glimpse of an era long gone. Unbridled creativity. There are so many stories each of us has of our experiences at GM Design during that era. Thanks Gary for recording it for posterity.”

  5. Just finished reading your book. Very impressed with the emphasis on the “people stories”. You conveyed a later period of humor that did not exist when I was there during the formal period of the mid 1960s. Most people think of GM in terms of the cars, whereas you focused on the designers that created the cars. Congratulations on your excellent and personable narrative.

  6. Charles Pleier

    Wow – great book! Only had time to flip thoroughly through it, but will provide many hours of interesting reading. Thank you for writing and publishing it!

  7. George Camp

    I’m greatly enjoying your book, Gary! All the wonderful anecdotes and photos bring laughter and smiles of recollection of the years at GM Design. The other content is equally entertaining, too! One can keep returning to its pages, finding a new topic of interest each time. I’m especially enjoying the “Quotes” section! You’re an excellent story-teller; congratulations on all the work you put into “Dean’s Garage; the Future is Back”!

  8. James Rice

    We tend to think of history as a series of events. But events are the result of what people choose to do or not do. Gary’s book focuses on the people who drove designs and events at GM Design. It is always informative, sometimes funny and sometimes sad. Picture are breathtaking. Extremely well done. Thanks!!!

  9. Congratulations on releasing “Dean;s Garage: the Future is Back”! Great Book! Great Read! Excellent delivery!

    Thank you Gary and Louise for this wonderful publication vicariously delivering the human condition nectar recalled from the good old days at GM Design. If I had a dollar for every time I daydreamed about how cool it would be as a GM test drive engineer, I’d probably have enough dollars saved to buy a new set of tires for all of Gary’s Corvettes.

  10. Len Casillo

    Gary. Great book. Closest thing to an actual time machine I have experienced! The photos, quotes and artwork really transported me back to what was a fabulous time at GM Design. Those of us who lived that era owe you a debt of gratitude for a chance to go back and revisit. And yes, Jerry would have loved it!!! Thanks for doing this, Len Casillo

  11. Peter Brock

    Hi Gary…..I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed the Future is Back. Great stories and wonderful comments! Excellent selection of illustrations and photos! How did they ever allow cameras in places where they weren’t permitted? (At least when I was there) So much of your book is about your era and the guys who made it so special. Looked like great fun….sorry I wasn’t still there to enjoy it, but your book was the next best thing. All the best, Peter Brock ps…I wonder if anyone will ever do something like this about Ford, Chrysler and the “other guys”?

  12. Sheldon Payne

    The book is providing lots of interesting reading along with so many great photos, illustrations and renderings. One tidbit about Ron Will’s escapades with Cadillac funeral vehicles that went unmentioned was the fact that he had lettering made up in proper funeral home chrome letters that said “Frank N. Stein Funeral Directors.” They were placed at the belt line of the door trim panels, just like the real thing. I remember seeing the car in the Design Staff parking lot and thinking what lunatic would do that before realizing it was Ron.

  13. Ron Will

    One other note about the hearse. There was a theater group that had done a presentation of Dracula. They used the set to decorate the front of their house on Halloween. I parked my Hearse in front of their set for a couple of Halloweens. It was all perfect fun. Someone said it made a photo and article in the paper. I also had lettering on the back window that said, “We Deliver”. ….and yes I was a lunatic.

    And by the way, I have finally gotten around to reading your book. It is wonderful. It’s like going to a family reunion and meeting all your old friends, the studios and the models all over again. I can almost smell the fresh clay reading your book.

  14. steven sicklick

    Just finished reading Dean’s Garage- the Future Is Back. As someone who continuously sketched and doodled cars in my youth, I would have loved to have had a career in auto design. Reading the stories and anecdotes of designers who shared their experiences in this book allowed me to vicariously imagine, in a way, what it would have actually been like to have worked in a studio. Thumbs Up Gary!!

  15. Dennis Burke

    Great book Gary. It’s like taking a trip down memory lane! Just thought I’d point out that the gentleman sitting behind the designer’s desk on page 35 happens to be Don Schumer.

  16. Michael Lamm

    Hi Gary,

    When your book initially arrived back in January, I riffled through it and looked at the photos and authors’ names, but I didn’t really read it.

    This week I did, and I have to tell you how much I’ve enjoyed it. Wonderful book!

    I started to think, too: Wow – this book was written specifically for me. I know a lot of the designers and places you mention; it’s like a reunion or old-home week.

    So thank you very much for putting everything together in such a beautifully organized, fun, illuminating way.


  17. Andrew

    Hi there from England. I’m pretty new to this site; I only found you a couple of weeks ago but was impressed enough to make this a favourite and buy the book. Wonderful piece of work. I’ve only had time to skim through fully once but what I’ve read of the Studio Shenanigans has had me laughing tears of joy. Full marks all round. Thanks a million Dean

  18. Andrew Mikes

    A large shout of thanks from Sheffield, England for your Dean’s Garage book, which has just been completed and thoroughly enjoyed. You’ve put together a superb insight into not only GM but all those other included anecdotes. A lot made me laugh of out loud,, much to my wife’s chagrin. And for someone who cannot draw, one can certainly appreciate the designs shown within, quite superb and such a wide, varied display. That’s where my interest in cars appears to be heading, into the minds of the designers. That and writing about cars, something I love to contribute to the website Driven To Write. Fifty years of car interest just keeps getting deeper; the more the merrier. With your book, things just got a whole lot better.

    I’ve mentioned your book to my fellow contributors and I’ll mention the book on “our” site. Plus, the delights of your own site keep opening new avenues of interest. I hope to write a future article to be on the second generation Buick Park Avenue, a car I’ve only seen in books, magazines and of course the internet. We don’t get many twenty year old sedans like that here in “Sunny England “ – currently minus three degrees – but this car just somehow appeals. I’ve gleaned Bill Porter to be the designer and plan on digging more.

    Anyways, thanks again for a superb book and website. Please continue to educate those interested in such matters of the automobile. It’s a great journey.

    Best wishes

  19. Carl Kofron

    Gary, Just received your book and read part of it, and can’t wait to finish it. EXCELLENT BOOK WOW! Thanks!

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