Interesting video from 1949. Several scenes from inside Art & Colour production design studios. Irv Rybicki and Bill Mitchell are easily recognizable in several scenes. The video starts at 7:21 into the film.

Description: “General Motors created this film after the War to generate interest in its new cars by showing the public how far automobile design had come since the days of the horseless carriage. From an artist’s sketch through full-scale steel sculpturing in clay and wood, to final rendering in steel, we see the motor car designer creating greater usefulness, performance and transportation value for each successive generation. This film brings to life the fascinating work of an auto designer who really is infused with craftmanship and an artisan’s sense of the practical value of beauty. We see how design had transformed the car from horse-drawn buggy to the modern Post WWII cars that were the envy of the world. The film is a glimpse into that hopeful, energetic, America that was on the go and ready to claim the ear as the American Century.”

Several screen shots from the film

  1. george tingom

    I remember going to a GM auto show with the boy scouts about 1952 near Van Nuys. I probably saw some of these. George

  2. Thanks Gary,
    Key phrases that stick, “Deadpan engineering”, and “Inside the designers mind”; the language was really interesting. Great history, I bet that GM would have failed if they had not hired Harley Earl, he was uniquely qualified to address the future, he was a visionary with imposing stature that had to be respected.
    Significantly, he must have brought a focus among many discordant entities within the company.

    The Motorama cars advanced the skills and experiences of the GM stylists years beyond any competition. And when they discovered interchangeability as practiced in the Body Studio Earl gained control over all the Divisions, to great result.


  3. Tom Semple

    Thank you Gary,

    I pushed the dot on the play bar back to the start and watched the whole piece. Wonderful! What optimism. I particularly enjoyed the Biblical reference from Genesis: “And the Designer saw form and line and said “It was good,” or something like that.

    Designers as God! Yes! I wonder what the rest of the studio disciplines, particularly those touchy modelers, thought when they saw this?

    Thank you for obtaining this wonderful old film. I bet Ford and Chrysler, Studabaker, and others active at the time made propaganda films too. Kaiser Frazier maybe?

    Next: “UP FROM CLAY”??

  4. Bill Wagner

    Gary, love your website,

    I was pretty excited to find my Dad, Fritz Wagner pictured in your 5th screen shot down in this post (the modeler working on the instrument cluster).
    I’ve tried many times to find information/photos of my grandfather and father’s modeling careers at GM but have not been too successful, so now with your help I have a 7 second video of my dad at work in 1949. I’ve cropped it out and slowed it down and stored in our family archives.
    My Dad started at GM in 1934 at age 20 making wood models and quit in 1953 when he was persuaded by Dick Teague and Bill Schmidt to become head of Clay Modeling at Packard. He always said “I missed getting my 20 year watch from GM by one year”.

    Thanks so much for this post,
    Bill Wagner

  5. David McIntosh

    What a fun film ! Thanks. I remember being a kid during that time of yearly changes, with each new model year more exciting than the last. The boy near the end exhaling in wonder captures that feeling. What a time to grow up…

Leave Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

clear formSubmit