Harley Earl & The Architecture of Automotive Design
Saturday, August 29, 2020
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Longtime SAH/SCC Member and vintage car collector Richard Stanley will discuss the life and contributions of influential industrial designer—and Hollywood native—Harley Earl (1893-1969). Developing his flash on the West Coast, Earl then took it East to Detroit. He literally invented the modern design studio that made General Motors so dominant. At the time of his retirement in 1958, nearly half of all cars built in America were designed under Earl’s aegis.
He is rightfully credited for bringing design and style to every echelon of the automotive market, putting fancy East Coast custom shops out of business. One of the ways Earl accomplished this feat was by hiring architects to replace engineers as automotive designers. Among the design innovations he directed: erasing running boards; lowering a square, upright conveyance into a long, low rectangular one; famously putting fins and wraparound windshields on hardtops. More than anything, Harley Earl and his patron, GM CEO Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., knew that a car was not just a means of transportation—it was a fashion accessory. Before the presentation, take a look at this short and amusing GM Motorama film, Design for Dreaming
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