Richard Earl is an automotive historian, professional speaker, automotive broker and curator of the photo exhibition Automotive Hollywood: A Tribute to Harley Earl. As the youngest grandson of Harley Earl, he has an intimate connection with one of America’s greatest 20th century innovators; by inventing the American Automobile Design profession, Harley Earl revolutionized the auto industry and his iconic business practices helped shape capitalism as we know it.
Richard, who was born in Detroit but spent
his twenties on Wall Street, returned to the Motor City in 1985 following a
visit to the GM Technical Center in Warren, MI. While there, he was captivated
by the ultra-futuristic clay model prototype cars and they ignited within him a
desire not just to learn more about his family’s auto legacy, but about the
rise of the automobile design profession at large. Fifteen years of scholarly
research and over one hundred first-person interviews later, Richard is a
leading expert in the field of American automotive design history.
In 2002, he penned a unique partnership with
General Motors (Buick) and ad agency McCann Erickson to create a national TV
commercial campaign using Harley Earl’s story to illuminate GM’s pioneering
roots. Directed by Tony Scott and featuring Tiger Woods as the modern-day
spokesperson, this $200 million dollar multi-year ad campaign enhanced the name
value of Harley Earl and, in turn, the value of his creations. Soon thereafter,
Richard launched the official Harley Earl website, www.carofthecentury.com, to
increase educational awareness and then worked with Barrett-Jackson to set an
historic record: auctioning three of Harley Earl’s motoramic masterpieces for
a combined total of over $10 million dollars.
In 2011, Richard Earl formed a partnership with eBay Motors for their first-ever National Collector Car Month promotion. After approaching eBay with a unique opportunity – the online sale of a GMC Futurliner – the largest auction company in the world used this historic motoramic masterpiece as the centerpiece for their month long events in July, 2011. Click the above online media kit to see more info.
Richard Earl currently resides in West Palm Beach and is at work on a biography about his legendary grandfather. He continues to edit the Official Harley Earl Website and speaks to audiences throughout the country. He has been interviewed on ESPN, Motor Trend Radio, Fox News, Speed TV and NPR's largest California affiliate AIR TALK with Larry Mantle:
As the foremost expert in Harley Earl
designed vehicles, Richard's unique ability to reveal the historic and artistic
provenance of an automobile gives potential buyers a better understanding of and
deeper appreciation for its true worth. His network of contacts, aptitude for
thinking outside the box, and ability to generate publicity ensures your
motoramic masterpiece sells for its full value.
From University students to Vietnam veterans to Fortune 500 executives, Harley Earl's story is as important as it is inspiring and no-one brings it to life more passionately and expertly than Richard Earl. As a true Renaissance man, Harley's life and legacy holds multi-faceted appeal:
For art and design students: From being the first in his industry to hire women and openly gay men, to plunking a Parisian-style atelier in the middle of a Detroit auto-plant, Harley Earl wasn’t afraid to shake things up and his ability to take risks and follow his instincts created the modern auto industry. Inspire your students with the knowledge that, like Harley, they too can not only break the mold, they can fashion an entirely new one and make an indelible impact.
businesses: Harley’s business milestones – dynamic obsolescence via
annual styling model changes, the creation of concept cars, innovative marketing
techniques like G.M.'s famed Motorama Shows of the 1950s, the standardization of
corporate secrecy - literally changed the face of capitalism. Much of what
created Apple’s enormous success harkens back to the practices and
philosophies introduced by Harley Earl, who truly was the secret behind the
success of G.M, the greatest company of the 20th century.
automotive audiences: History is taught in every
school because it’s accepted that to understand the present and prepare for
the future it’s important to understand the past. Harley Earl critically
shaped, if not outright formed, today’s modern auto industry and intimately
understanding the true breadth and scope of his life and legacy is not only
interesting, it’s extremely important.
For Military personnel and veterans: Find out Harley Earl’s fascinating career history with the U.S. government and the critical but lesser known role he played in World War II.
"I had Richard speak at our national conference for Industrial Designers. He was smashing! In short, Richard Earl is the most provocative, educated and well-spoken person I know in the car industry…an expert on Harley Earl and all things GM – past, present and future. I can only describe Harley Earl’s story as the “Seabiscuit” of the auto industry.'
Frank Tyneski, Executive Director of Industrial Designers Society of
America and former G.M. Design Executive
"Thank you for keynoting our 75th anniversary meeting. Your program was well attended and I heard great things about the information you provided. Our members found it interesting and were happy to hear the history of your grand-father’s participation in the car industry for so many years. In addition, your willingness to answer questions and visit with our members after the official program was really well accepted!"
Shayna Geller, Annual Meeting Event Director, Antique
Automobile Club of America
interviewed Richard for our feature length documentary, Art
Car: The Movie. He was
fantastic. It was a compelling
interview. His knowledge of the
American automotive design industry is vast and his passion infectious. Any audience would be lucky to hear him speak."
Carlton Ahrens & Ford Gunter, Directors
keynote addresses include:
Academy of Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills,
Antique Automobile Club of America, Philadelphia, PA
Kettering University, Flint, MI
Chrysler World Headquarters, Auburn Hills, MI
Barrett-Jackson, Scottsdale, AZ
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Industrial Designers Society of America, Phoenix, AZ
Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
National Corvette Museum, Bowling Green, KY
GM Nationals, Carlisle Events, Carlisle, PA