Gray Counts’ GM Artwork


Long story short: it took a call from Ed Welburn to encourage Gray to bring in what work he may have for scanning and archiving at GM. He did so. Gray had not been at Design Center for 15 years, and Ed graciously gave him a tour. “The place is completely different.” I can only imagine. I emailed GM Design Archive and Special Collections and they provided scans of Gray’s work for this Dean’s Garage post.

Be sure to check out other Dean Garage posts about Gray:
Gray Counts, Designer, Automotive Fine Artist, Friend (this post has the coffee story and much of his automotive fine art),
Ron Kellogg’s Bugatti Type 57/59 Roadster Special, and
Old Ford Tractors.

Check out Gray’s work on Car Body Design.

Early Buick

I sat next to Gray for several years in Buick One Exterior. I think I even remember a few of these sketches.




Disney World Epcot Project

I’m not sure if all of these sketches were for the Epcot project.


Gray Counts played a part in the saga of Dave Holls’ Bugatti.




Gray and Kay Counts, 2005



Gray and his concours Buick, 2005



Gray’s Michigan home that he built.


Gray and I both lived in the Clarkston area and carpooled together for several years. In the fall of 1978 he invited me to a Bible study at his home (then on Rattalee Lake Road) where I met my wife, Louise.


  1. Gray,
    Thanks for sharing images from your remarkable career as an automotive designer.
    You’re an amazing talent!

    John M. Mellberg
    Automotive Designer (Ret’d.)


    My favorite sketch of Gray’s is at the very top of this article. It is a magic sketch.

    After convincing the Board of Directors at the Detroit Institute of Opthalmology to stage a classic car show in Grosse Pointe that would feature automobile design I was desperate for something to use as an attraction as one month before the event I was planning to go from car show to car show around the Detroit area looking for the right kind of cars and hoping to convince their owners that it would be worth their time. I needed something to clearly show the concept of design, past, present and future and I fell back on the most valuable thing that I knew a designer could create, a convincing sketch of something that had never seen before, something that did not exist. I wanted to make a one page flyer that I could leave with car owners, a piece of artwork that would on its own merit motivate people to participate in this new kind of automotive event.

    On a Monday morning I raced around the building from one studio to the next looking for the majic sketch. I was sure it was somewhere but I was getting frustrated when finally I found it in Buick Studio but Gray was not there, he was out somewhere. On my way back to my studio I met Gray in the hallway and told him my story asking him if he would let me use his sketch. I promised to get Chuck Jordans approval, which I did. Gray was a little baffled but he very graciously consented. In retrospect it was a pretty strange request.

    Stu Shuster had consented to help me, he created the graphics, sized everything and made me two hundred copies by Friday and the next afternoon after work I started hitting every local car show including some of the bigger ones in the Metro Detroit area. By Sunday evening I was almost out of flyers.

    People were dumbfounded when they saw it. They had never seen a drawing of a stunning futuristic car let alone one in the company of a classic from the thirties. It was a unique and beautiful piece of artwork, a composition that created great curiosity, it opened the door to the granting of a little time that allowed me to explain the idea and ask for their help.

    The sketch was the pivotal piece that led to the presence of over one hundred cars that were presented at the first Eyes On Design, at that time called Eyes On The Classics. Grays sketch was a powerful tool that has ultimately benefitted hundreds of blind people and one that has led to the development of research to aid the blind and visually impaired.

    Grays sketch was the cover for the first program, over twenty eight years later it could easily fill that need again. I am sure that I thanked Gray but I would like to do it again.

    All the best,
    Dick Ruzzin

  3. I had the pleasure of working twice with Gray, at the beginning of my career, and the end of his. Both times it was with Wayne Kady as our studio chief, and a revolving cast of talented supporting characters that kept us entertained.
    As a new hire, I couldn’t believe the good fortune of being able to witness his legendary renderings unfold before my eyes. When we worked together years later I was still impressed with the renderings and captivated with the storytelling. As good as he was across the various rendering media, he could also spin a yarn with the best. He was fond of “goin’ around the barn” a few times before neatly stitching seemingly disparate storylines together at the very end – like a great Seinfeld episode.
    In hindsight, the two abilities make perfect sense together – a good rendering/design essentially pulls a story together, and Gray was a masterful narrator.
    I hope he is well and enjoying what was always most important to him, his family.

    Great site Gary (another master). Much of the stuff I learned from you (and another cast of characters – summer of ’84) stayed with me during my years at GM.

  4. I loved seeing Gray’s work here. I remember some of it from Buick I Studio. He is an amazing talent!

  5. David North

    Gray Counts was one of the finest gentalmen,and
    Designer- illustrator I had the privilege knowing ,

  6. Hi, is Gray Counts still alive? I have one of his graphic art pictures, that i am going to give to my grandson. I am trying to find out my information on Mr. Counts. I used to work for Libbey Owens Ford Glass Company from 1964-2010. Thank You

    Gray died in July, 2017.—Gary

  7. Al

    Did Mr Gray lead the exterior design of the 1980 Electra facelift? I own an 83 Electra. Displayed amongst his work is an Electra proposal that bears a strong resemblance to the final product. I would love to find out any information I could on this car, and the men who designed it.

    Gray was in the studio during the period when the 1978–1983 Buick Electra was being design and no-doubt contributed. All of the designers in the studio contributed to the facelifts.—Gary

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