What a Difference 50 Years Can Make

These impressive logo designs, above and directly below, were planned ahead of time in 1957 at GM Styling

Imagine, not one person in charge at GM even thought it necessary for a visual logo be created for this company's 100th anniversary at its birthday in September, 2008! Yes, it is another misstep.

Fifty years ago, Detroit's auto world was "one of the Top-3 greatest crown jewels of the American business world." As this section below fleshes out, Detroit's leaders went to great length to herald GM's  "50 Millionth Car" back in 1955. Today, the leaders of this business world have debased the whole modern system (lowering the standards of auto making in this country) to such a ridiculously low degree, that most savvy business people around the globe recognize the leadership at The Big Three auto makers being the laughing stock of the entire worldwide auto economy! Not surprisingly, Harley Earl's untimely departure from General Motors -- in November, 1958 -- foreshadowed the long downfall of the American auto business. This was when a new group took command; GM's financial treasury office administrators unscrupulously stripped the Power of Design and began driving the company down an entirely new road...it's the self same path GM and Detroit are on today.

First read the July 18, 2008 NYTimes news story below to witness the dramatic polar opposite world GM and Detroit have moved in during the last 50 years versus what's visually displayed on the successful path GM and South Eastern Michigan's economy was back in the mid-50s, illustrated further down:

 All the historical material chronicles a huge General Motors party dedicated to SUCCESS (the rise story, not GM & Detroit's most recent history). Much of this information could actually provide thought starters so today's patrons of the U.S. auto scene might want to take a shot at turning around this negative business trend that's been going on for decades now. Detroit's principal leaders should stop stonewalling and start changing Motown's most ominous downward trend. Not having an action plan and continuing to shuffle their feet, means the risks are going to be that much harder later on when working on quelling the foreign car invasion. After all, companies like GM and Ford have become extremely good at hemorrhaged market share points over the last 25-years of operation. Regardless of the spin thrown at the media over the years, there's no denying the facts of how GM's gone from a position of being over a 45% level of the domestic market share piece of the pie in 1979 to currently being 20%. 

Crowd surged around 50 millionth car - the spectacular event attracted the largest crowd in Flint history. 

What it all boils down to is that if GM continues to loose out (Ford Motor Co. and other big Mi suppliers lose...but that's another story entirely) and falls under a 20% market share level in the coming years, it is certain top people in Detroit are going to be held accountable for perpetuating one of the most un-American trends in industry. GM hasn't seen below a 20% market share level since prior to 1920! What do leaders in Detroit want for their future? Control their own destiny by recreating some repeat performance of what GM used to do easily - be profitable, and, gain market share - or, eventually have Washington come in and bail them out sometime in the foreseeable future; which will naturally be extremely painful, further muck up the auto industry and eventually end up skewering the American tax-payer.

Naturally, there are a large number of execs in the industry today - with their reputations on the line - who continue saying it just isn't so. Well, this is their time to take a new step forward. All the historical content at this section gives an excellent demonstration showing the enormous popularity GM and all its product designs once had and also shows the great success South-eastern Michigan's overall businesses were enjoying, too. To imagine that a large number of execs and Detroit leaders (from the '60s,'70s,80's and 90's), ran away from the shadow of this kind of success...and didn't ever embrace it and find out more about this illuminating history shows exactly the weak fiber of these leaders. Today's leaders and execs in Detroit have a once in a life time opportunity ahead of them to use every tool in their great arsenal to recreate, rediscover...and eventual rebuild Detroit and it's mainline form of business back up!

Why did Flint hit the skids so bad later on? Click above to read the story Michael Moore never came to understand.

The symbolism of Harley Earl's famous emblem was permanently emblazoned on people's minds. From the national newspapers this logo-mark appeared in, to the 100,000 people who no doubt saw it in rapid fire during the parade day, it was like all the other tastefully designed products coming from GM at that time...so naturally the general audience loved it. 

And during the weeklong celebration, the logo-style was everywhere (historical photos here prove the point). Individuals today still collect souvenir life-style creations and memorabilia from this celebrated event, such as: literature, coins, key chains, paperweights, glasses and other token items.  

This also included all the other dramatic cool coinage GM was pumping out for the many different Motorama shows of the era, too

The above photograph appeared in the issue of Folk's magazine shown at the top of this section and as anyone can now see, the photo was taken in Harley Earl's office (look at pics below validating this point). And, it was in this office that many masterful design icons originally took shape and were formed. But, the secondary players rising up underneath Earl never told that side of the story later on to any journalist or historians since these particular designers and engineers realized by saying "I did that work," they would make more money, gain notoriety and most likely be promoted or hired out in the future to go on to Ford or some other large auto maker. 

It's no longer a secret that after Harley Earl's retirement and death approximately 10 years later, many of his original artistic creations were claimed to have been done by others. For instance, many of Earl's detractors liked telling journalists, auto historians or anyone who would listen, "Mr. Earl couldn't draw too well." So, one can see now this was just another fabrication or teardown tactic used often by the secondary members to raise themselves up against Earl. Notice below, in promotional photo, how Earl is shown rendering. 

The twisting everything around trend, or behavioral trait, really became popular inside GM during the 1970s. Why it happened in the first place has a great deal to do with Earl's character; he wasn't like most men and didn't care to verbally say, "I did this," "I did that" when he was alive...but as one can finally see for the first time at this website, he left an incredible paper trail to prove exactly what he did in history. He always knew that the scholarly records were all left behind, for anyone inquisitive enough to do all the work and then put his story together later on in history. Another way of looking at things is that after Harley Earl passed away, many of his protégées would go on to become detractors of this man and all his work. His successor Bill Mitchell, who is seated in the (above) picture as well as seen in the pic at right (below), was no exception. 

These longtime stylists of GM Styling pictured above, some had engineering skills, some didn't, knew Harley Earl couldn't work forever. So, there was a feeding frenzy going on behind-the-scenes to land in the ivory tower position he would eventually leave behind. That story has never been told.

Where are these two drawing don by Harley Earl, shown above, located today? That's a good question. It is entirely possible that his signature mark well might have been erased by another artist following in his wake? Or, hopefully, these rare works of art will reappear now that this man's true identity is finally coming forward.