Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Model Cars, Part 1

Back in the 1950's and 1960's, Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild sponsored an annual contest for young designers to create concept models of the cars of the future. In fact, General Motors actually hired some of the winners who went on to design the GM cars since then. This car was designed by 18-year-old Spencer Mackay of Tarzana, California.

In cooperation with the RM Auction whose classic car auction was held recently at the Arizona Biltmore Resort, a collection of the models from the competition were on display. I do have to apologize that the lighting was terrible and I really had to work hard to make the images presentable. It would have been so much easier if I could have borrowed the models and shot them in my tabletop studio that I use for Mizuki's eBay auctions. Unfortunately, the signs all said "Do Not Touch".

As you can read, this model was by Robert W. Lawhn II, age 20 at the time.

All the models from the competition were one-twelfth scale and are said to provide a “unique show of automotive-design history” according to Ron Will one of the winners of the competition.

It is interesting that several of the models, such as this one, featured a tricycle wheel configuration that, in fact, never caught on — I suspect because of the instability.

Regards, Dennis Little of Cleveland, OH won one of the awards with this futuristic design that would have been at home with the Jetsons.

A collection of the Fisher Body model cars previously was displayed in 2008 at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the GM Heritage Center in Sterling Heights, Mich. has three models from the early 1950s in its collection.

Fine artistic design does not always translate to practical auto design. This design by Gary Smith, age 17 at the time, wastes body space behind the wheels that would otherwise provide additional passenger legroom. Still looks good though.

Smith went on to work for GM from 1973 to 1988, designing for every division except Chevrolet.

A lot has changed in car design, with far more schools training today’s designers. And the craft has shifted from sketches on paper to digital design.

This bird beak design was crafted by Jeff Jones, age 17 at the time. Interesting.

The guild-contest cars generally were carved out of wood. Others were cast in plaster. Back then, model builders used red toothbrush handles as tail lights, tiny pieces of Plexiglas turned on a lathe for headlights and sections of model railroad track as chrome window trim.

This handsome design was by 20-year-old George Prentice of Columbus, NE. I think I can see in this 1965 model some of the design elements of fairly recent vintage.

This design was by Jeff Jones (disregard the tag beyond the model, that was for another car) who was age 15 at the time. To me this is almost an inspiration for the Batmobile — with separate compartments for Batman and Robin.

Geza A. Loczi, age 20 at the time, designed this beautiful model. Lacking bumpers, a production model would have been frowned on by the US Department of Transportation, depending on when it would have been produced.

Michael "Bobby" D'Mura, age 20 at the time, designed this tear drop shape sports car. Again, a three-wheeled vehicle that would have created stability issues if it were to be really driven the way sports cars are usually driven. But I love the concept — very artistic.

Another Jeff Jones design, this one submitted when he was only age 14! This guy has talent. Perhaps not a practical production vehicle but I love the design.

Another D'Mura design created when he was age 18. Not so far from actual design concepts that were implemented by GM, this is another design that I greatly admire.

We close this week with a Hardtop Sport Coupe designed by a 13-year-old Jeff Jones — this kid had talent. This design could have gone into production with few modifications.

To be continued.

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com