I’ve known Gray Counts since the mid ’70s. We became good friends and used to car pool together. One of my favorite Gray Counts stories has to do with coffee. There was a coffee maker in every studio, and someone would usually make a fresh pot after lunch. There often weren’t a lot of coffee drinkers in the afternoon, so the pot would still be half full by 3:00. This is the kind of commercial style drip coffee maker where the coffee was kept warm in round glass pots. As the hours drifted by the water would slowly evaporate. The coffee would get strong, bitter, and burnt. By quitting time the contents in the pot had transmogrified into a think, tar-like substance with several crusted rings around the inside of the glass. The resulting barnacles were hard to remove.

Someone in the studio was usually responsible enough to throw out any left over coffee and to shut off the coffee maker at quitting time. What was left in the bottom of the pot was pretty manly. For some reason he’d holler out, “Anybody want the rest of this coffee?” From somewhere in the studio you’d hear, “I’ll take it.” That would be Gray. He’d walk out to the car with a styrofoam cup in his hand with this stinky black stuff in it. Somehow the styrofoam cup could resist the corrosive nature of its contents. Gray spent several years in the Navy and I always assumed he had learned to tolerate anything that remotely resembled coffee.

Gray developed a reputation for his renderings and was often asked to create artwork for some special project. He painted a rendering of the Dave Holl’s Bugatti design that is the subject of the post entitled, Ron Kellogg’s Bugatti Type 57/59 Roadster Special.


A Gallery of Gray’s Paintings

1928 Packard Dual Cowl Phaeton, oil on canvas

1929 Auburn, oil on canvas


1956 Mercedes 500SL Gullwing, oil on canvas


1931 Rolls Royce, oil on canvas; 1932 Glaser Right Hand Drive Cadiallac, acrylic on masonite


1933 Lincoln, oil on canvas


1937 Cord 810 Speedster, watercolor


1930s Marschal Headlamp, and 1929 Bentley, acrylic on masonite


1939 Ford Model A, oil in canvas


1929 Weyman Bodied Bentley, acrylic on masonite


1937 540 with 1928 SSK Mercedes, and 1932 Murphy bodied Lincoln, acrylic on masonite


1928 Packard, acrylic on masonite


1912 Stutz, acrylic on masonite


1930 Packard Sedan, oil in canvas


1932 Lincoln, acrylic on masonite


1931 Cadillac with Ferrari P4, and Bugatti Royale, acrylic on masonite


Gray’s rendering of Dave Holls’ Bugatti design. See the post about how the car finally got finished.


Gray has Giclée prints available of his artwork. Please contact Gray Counts by email or phone (248-620-2693) to order a print.

Gray’s Biography

Gray’s work shows a great fascination for the reflection of light on glass and metal as well as an appreciation for the automobile as an object of beauty and rolling sculpture. His award-winning work resides in private collections all over the country.

Gray has been married to Kay for 49 years and is the father of 3 grown daughters and grandfather of six grandsons and one granddaughter. He was born in a rural area of Virginia where he lived for 4 years before his parents moved the family to Michigan during WWII. Gray with his wife Kay live in a log home in Davisburg, Michigan, about half way between Detroit and Flint.

Gray has loved all things mechanical and has been blessed by God with the ability to draw and paint. These two compatible things have motivated him from youth to draw and paint anything that flies, hums, runs or floats. With those interests and that background, Gray decided to study engineering. After a few years of study, the desire to draw and design as well as paint were too strong to resist so he transferred into the field of industrial design, and graduated with a BFA degree.

After a 5 years stint in Uncle Sam’s Navy, Gray attended the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles to pursue further study in the field of Automotive Design. Gray is now retired from General Motors Design Staff where he worked as a Senior Creative Designer.

  1. The detail in Gray’s art is amazing!!

    Each one catches your eye. The one I look at most is the one titled “1933 Lincoln, oil on canvas”, I guess I like the reflections in the chrome.

    Thanks for the post Dean!

  2. Wayne Barratt

    That’s some of the best automotive photorealist art I have ever seen. I wish I was near as tallented as Mr. Counts. The Marchal headlamp painting is particulary mesmerizing. I would love to see the original. Is Gray Courts automotive art exhibited anywheres (galleries, museums etc)?

  3. Ron

    Simply amazing! It is obvious that Gray has perfected the gift that God has given him!

  4. Heather Jolliff Ciantar

    Gray Counts is my uncle. I’ve admired his artistic ability all of my life. Unfortunately, I didn’t inherit his God given talent or ability. But I am proud to be related to such an admired and gifted artist.

  5. Bailey McClelland

    After Gray’s biography was made he had a beautiful granddaughter…..ME! I am the only girl grand kid, that makes me 1 of a kind. LOVE YOUR WORK GRANDPY!


    Without question some of the best automotive illustration that you will ever see,
    and most significantly the capturing and presentation of the design character of the various subjects is superb.

    Dick Ruzzin

  7. Chris Dowdey

    Wow. What an inspiration. Mr. Counts has always been one of my favorite artists. I only met him once at Eyes on Design and he just seemed really low key and humble.
    His Artwork is screaming awesome though. Truly

  8. I first saw Gray’s art at the GM studio in Epcot, Disney, FL. I was amazed at the concept of a classic automobile in the background and a concept in the foreground. I returned home and called Gray at GM to see if he was interested in participating in the Meadow Brook Concours. It took 45 minutes to convince him to attend! In 1985 I commissioned him to create the poster art for the Concours. His painting of two classic Mercedes and Meadow Brook Hall in the background is one of my all time favorites and I recently had the wonderful opportunity to purchase it from an auction. No question that this is one of the greatest poster art originals of our times.

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