Recent Letters and Emails:

Subject: A fan from Brazil

Just need to say how much I love this site .Since the first time I saw it ,months ago ,its impossible for me not to visit carofthecentury.com at least one time per week.

I have been reading about Mr. Earl’s work since I was sixteen years old (now I’m 46) and when I found out there was a website on the world’s automotive design legacy, it was amazing to know more about its founder, Harley Earl. I love American cars and I agree with everything that you wrote about concerning what’s going on in the American industrialized world today. America needs someone like Mr. Earl now, or we (if you permit me) will lose other beloved marks such as, Cadillac, Buick, Lincoln, Mercury and Dodge.

I couldn’t believe when GM discontinued OLDSMOBILE. Cars sell well because of their design, and I believe that a little of history and tradition helps too. In the future, I'd like to find out and better understand why American people think that to be a well positioned person in the society, you have to have  a Toyota, Honda or a BMW?

Thank you very much for CAROFTHECENTURY.COM

  Alexandre Freddi / Brazil

Subject: GM's best times

Your site is A-OK.  With GM in such disarray compared to its competition, it is kind of exciting to go back in time to their hay-day.

Marty Grivjack / FL

Subject: Harley Earl Website is shinning example of how art and economic development mix together

I have this website dedicated to Harley Earl book marked. I am strongly involved in art, and am taking further art and graphic art (including web design) training at Mott Community College in Flint.

The reason for this e-mail is to let you know about an organization I’m involved with called Americans For The Arts, which is an arts advocacy group, which is trying to get more funding for the arts, in the belief that art assists in the economic growth of a community. That site can be found at:
http://ww3.artsusa.org/get_involved/advocate.asp

I have sent a customizable e-mail to U.S. Representative Dale Kildee to urge more arts funding, due to my efforts in the web design and graphic art field. But, I also mentioned the Harley Earl website, because I believe it is a shining example of how art and economic development mix together. Designer-Earl proved this over and over again. I hope Representative Kildee shares your site with everyone else so they can see how Harley Earl was able to make it happen.

I would appreciate it if you would help me in lending the Earl name to this effort to get more arts funding so more people can have a chance to share the opportunities Harley Earl had. His legacy could become a tremendous influence on future generations of artists and engineers.

If you have any further questions, visit the Americans For The Arts website, or feel free to contact me.


Larry Launstein Jr. / Flint, MI.

Subject: Comment

I can't believe how much information is on your website.  I am doing a term paper on Harley Earl and this site is awesome.  Every other source of information I have found can't compare to what is on your site.  I am truly amazed at the accomplishments of Mr. Earl, and I am enjoying learning about him.  Great job!

Eric Ferencich

Subject: Website

I really enjoyed looking through your amazing site.  I learned things I never knew about GM, Harley Earl, and the history of American auto design.  I'm sure my website's audience will enjoy your site too.

I added your homepage to my "Links 3 Page -- The Cars" with a link also from my "Updates" page which is busy and should bring quite a few new visitors to your site:

http://www.tamsoldracecarsite.net/Updates.html


Tam / California

Subject: Colorful and Enlightening Tribute to Harley Earl

This site is FANTASTIC!!! I own 2 of Harley Earl’s works—a 1959 Corvette and a 1954 Cadillac. The info in this collection is UNMATCHED!!!! I am 44 years old and been a fan of Harley Earl before I knew his name!

This is an education I could not have received in school thank you for your obvious effort in creating such a colorful and enlightening tribute to a true GENIOUS!! Harley Earl....

Thanks again,
Mitchell Cornacchia / Hackensack, NJ

Subject: Pathfinders Who Bucked the Odds

Dear Sir,

Having been a buyer and I might add, immensely enjoying being a driver of many American and foreign cars, I appreciate what this website and your book (albeit forthcoming), speak to.  Messers: Harley Earl, Henry Ford II, De Lorean and others were pathfinders who bucked the odds and were to a man, hardheaded businessmen with an almost spiritual frame of reference with regards to transportation.

What if Harley Earl had not plunked down GM money for the specialty cars of the 50's and 60's? Does the Russian-Yugoslavian/Yugo ring any bells? Any enthusiast has only to sit in a 1957 Cadillac Coup de Ville and enjoy how that car inspires the wonder of a boy's mind dreaming of jets and luxury.

I was 19 when I bought one--my Caddie was only a decade old and magnificent. Oh, if I had it back today--I'd trade my restored Karmann Ghia, Datsun 280 ZX, Sienna and Camry for it. Nothing compared to the fine autos coming from the mind of Harley J. Earl.

Kudos for doing this great image and word story.

Don Fortin / Vacaville, California

Subject: Comment: A Symphony of Automotive Design

Automotive design under the leadership of Harley Earl can be likened to that of a great Symphony. Symphonies are made up of very talented individuals with great gifts but it takes a conductor, like Harley Earl, to bring out their true greatness.

After too long a period automotive design is now only beginning to recapture the style and vision that Mr. Earl originally brought to the GM design studios. Fins and chrome only tell part of the story, the rest lies in his ability to know what the public wanted even before they knew they wanted it. 

Thank you for this wonderful website.
Dennis McCabe / Buick Club of the Redwoods

Subject: HJE's Titanium Shelled 1954 Firebird II & Patent 

I tried getting Mr. Earl's Firebird II patent number off your website, but couldn't.  When you get a chance I'd appreciate this number or any others you would be willing to provide.

There's a lot of content on the site.  I like how you give both sides to the story and back up your facts with outside sources.  Adds a lot of credibility.  I especially enjoyed the family pictures.  What an interesting life.  I look forward to reading your book.  

Keep in touch.

Liz Coulter

Subject: Stephen Bayley's 1983 biography titled, Harley Earl and the Dream Machine

In the car design section of this website (www.carofthecentury.com/car_design.htm), I fully agree with the premise Harley's products look better than today's. I could only describe many of today's vehicles as grotesque.  

I managed to get a copy of Stephen Bayley's book published by Knopf, Harley Earl and the Dream Machine, and reread it. The first time was in the 80s. As I remembered, it's full of errors in the pictures and captions. But, he gives Harley full credit for what he accomplished. His ending is so significant. Bayley pointed out, in 1983, “that it's extraordinary that so little has been written about America's most influential designer.” Then he writes that no doubt later studies will locate Earl more precisely in history than, "this loose first shot attempt." Looks like you're going to be the one to do it, as 20 years has gone by without that later study!

In his book he has a picture of the side drawing for the proposed Greyhound Scenicruiser and a photo of a standard bus from the rear. His caption says the bus was a product of Earl's studios and Raymond Loewy was a consultant. There's that connection that puzzles me. Bayley provides no references, another weak point of his book.

Yours,
Phil A.

Afterthought: Read a 1983 Wall Street Journal book critique on Harley Earl and the Dream Machine: http://www.carofthecentury.com/professional_jealous.htm

Subject: Comment: Aweeeeeeeesome! 

I'm only about half way through your site and I'm already out of breath!
This is an achievement about achievement.
The kind I dreamed of as a young man.
The kind I live for as an older one.


Thanks; GC

Afterthought: Right back at you...we deeply appreciate your positive feedback!

Subject: As a matter of fact

Your poignant email reminds me of a letter I read in BUSINESS WEEK magazine a little over a year ago when I wrote in "to the editor" of BW, and they went on to publish my letter regarding Cadillac, too. See what I mean at the link below...MAKE SURE YOU READ THE "SECOND" LETTER by Clark McClain of Tucson, AZ. at: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/02_17/c3780027.htm 

Mr. McClain's powerful letter is the one that matters most. His appraisal on how GM (Cadillac) turned off so many loyal American car buyers is right on the money...as well as being done in amusing way, too. To this day, it is one of the most straightforward descriptions that outlines perhaps one of the greatest problems GM needs to quickly face and then solve: How to deal with - lure back & turn on - millions of car buyers who became "irreverent" towards owning cars with GM's stamp on them. 

Regards/ TM

Subject: 50th Anniversary of Corvette is Controversial; But History Will Hold True In Long Run

While Zora Duntov may have had some influence nurturing the Corvette along after it was originally released, he is far from the legend behind the Corvette. Some loyal owners of this American sports car are starting to smell the winds of change (pertaining to Harley Earl's more accurate version of the story of Corvette's real history) and are now referring to Duntov by his rightful title: The Corvette Nanny.

Chevy didn't hire this  white-haired Russian immigrant until mid-1953, well after the Corvette had been prototyped, displayed, and marketed. It is strange, or perhaps not, that some are going out of their way to not mention the name Harley Earl who, if it were not for him, the Corvette would not exist today.

To purposely ignore one of the most talented and gifted engineers/designers of the 20th century seems almost a deliberate action by those who did not have the vision, skills, and confidence, and are more concerned about a false legacy than they are about accuracy, and proper recognition.

If history holds true, Harley Earl will win out in the end. No doubt by the 100th Anniversary of GM in 2008, the deception concerning the expatriate Zora Duntov and his true role in Corvette history will be ferreted out and exposed. 

Al H. from Washington D. C.

Subject: carofthecentury.com online site is really great 

I knew a little about Harley Earl and was impressed...but not to the degree I am now after seeing this site. It certainly is true that he has been overlooked and should be brought to the attention of the car buyers of today. Isn't it strange how certain images are remembered by people? I am certain the Harley Earl image association  is not a negative association in advertising. 

It's quite obvious that Mr. Earl deserves to be put in the minds of the consumer. We'll certainly do our part verbally as an individual. Keep me posted.

Walt Kozier

Subject: Detroit Institute of Design 

I am most intrigued by the mention on your site of Harley Earl's correspondence course on auto design.  I grew up desiring to be an automotive stylist, and would love to read/study his course.  Is there a reprint available of this document, or a .pdf download?  I am intrigued but can find nothing for sale on eBay or listed thru Google.  Is there any way that I could obtain a facsimile? I am dying to read Mr. Earl's premise. I had no idea such a thing existed.

Thanks for any help you can give / Pat McLaughlin

Subject: da Vinci of Detroit

"Fascinating" doesn't do this section (www.carofthecentury.com/car_design.htm) justice. 

I especially liked page 31 and those that follow at the above online link.  You could create a college course just on the theme of this web site.  I remember as a kid in Ohio with a newspaper route, marveling at how someone could create such beautiful cars, starting with a clean sheet of paper.  When conditions would permit, I would sit down on the ground in front of a car and study the symmetry and balance of just how everything was located and contributed to the overall impression.  

Well, thanks again for the new links – they really get a person to thinking about what direction the American automobile industry is going in.  I sure hope it isn't to follow the European and Asian brands, like Cadillac seems to be doing. 

John Noecker (Noecker Buick is a longtime dealer in Hudson, New York) http://www.noeckerbuickpontiac.com

Afterthought: John knows his history on the American Automobile Industry & where the auto design profession began.

Subject: Automotive Styling; Chiefs 

Why do automotive executives not give the great automotive designer their just due.  In my opinion,  its real simple.  In the automotive business, design or styling is everything!  It always was and it always will be.  When Bill Mitchell retired as VP of GM Styling the chairmen of GM (I'm almost sure it was Roger Smith) said "no son-of-a-bitch will ever have as much control over the success or failure of General Motors as did Mitchell".  Mitchell (or Earl) could single handedly make or break any new car program with the stroke of their pen, and the top executives knew it.  You could hire one of a hundred MBA's to run the company in an hour, finding an Earl might take a little longer!

Great web site.  Keep up the good work.
Greg 

Afterthought: Roger Smith - the flunky financial CEO/ administrator of GM in the eighties - was the one who had way "too much control." Here's why:

You're right on what's addressed in the above email on Smith and Mitchell. But, what's never really come to the surface before, is how Roger Smith pulled off a major coup in big business. For he quietly striped the power-of-design reins from the decision makers at GM's Design headquarters so he could start instituting his narrow self interest views on styling/engineering from the treasury office post in downtown Detroit. This was all done supposedly to, "Save GM Money." But, Smith's disastrous seat-of-the-pants change everything around and shoot from the hip business style proved to be totally unfounded, since it was simply based on primarily one man's crooked analysis. How did this "now controversial" lone wolf convince so many other auto execs to follow him is perhaps the most interesting consideration? 

It still holds true in this country, 'one person' can make a difference. 

History repeatedly tells us this is true; Smith's questionable ruling tactics as GM's CEO from 1980 thru 1990 slated him to be later epitomized in the national media as "a frustrated greedy old businessman." During Smith's watch managing the largest company in the world, he ended up sending General Motors into a legendary tailspin that consequently help tilt the rest of the American auto industry down, too. What an un-American thing to do! This one man changed the course of auto history - negatively affecting Detroit's auto capital more than any other from the American auto industry's past.  Put another way, Smith was a polar opposite of a person like Harley Earl.

Roger Smith's worst offence: Tearing down a time-honored and proven process of progressive design/engineering - that leaders like Sloan, Earl and Knudsen spent their entire careers fighting to introduce and institute inside Detroit's  modern automobile world. 

And, who is still mainly benefiting today - in numbers & finance - from this one man's, Roger Smith, giant sized blunders-in-business?  FOREIGN AUTO COMPETITORS.

Subject: Electric Blue Wildcat II

I visited Harley Earl (HJE) in the 50's, and fell in love with the Wildcat II . I told him I would paint it with Frank Lloyd Wrights "Falling water" house in PA with the Wildcat in the driveway. I never did get to it until later - I now have painted it on canvas. 30" x 40" when it was first showed in electric blue.

He sent me photo's of all the dream cars and autographed some of them. I truly loved him. Thanks for your web site, and one of the only photo's of the wildcat II in color.

I would love to buy a color print. 

Thanks again,
Jack Patrick

Afterthought: Mr. Patrick mailed in a photo of his work of art. To say the least, it's fabulous...take a look (click image below). This cross-pollination of two modern American masters, F.L. Wright & H.J. Earl, is very moving.

Subject: Great web site! I have a question? Where is the LeSabre?

Dear Sir:

I was totally blown away by your site today!  The Le Sabre is the most fantastic car of all time.  It is my favorite.  I even had a model kit of it in about 1953. Where is the Le Sabre today?  I thought it was in a museum in the Detroit area.

Again.....great site.
Douglas Huntzinger, Paramount, CA

Answer: When Le Sabre is not touring...or in some museum, this one-of-a-kind dream car is often stabled inside the Styling Headquarters Building at GM Design within the Technical Center in Warren, Michigan. Who knows, if GM had honest leaders who took the company up, instead of down, in the future...then it's highly possible this company could break ground in downtown Detroit and build a ultramodern museum devoted to the automotive industrial arts...of the future! But before anything like this were to ever happen, this important first step would have to achieved: GM would have to gain market share points...something this company hasn't done in over four decades.  

Subject: Harley Earl 

Dear Sir/Madame,

I am a student studying Product Design at University of Wales Institute Cardiff UK, for my dissertation I have chosen to investigate the use of sexuality in the automotive industry.  One of the key people who introduced this aspect was Harley Earl.  

I was there-for wondering if you know of any relevant information on Harley Earl that you suggest I could look at, or any information on the induction of sexual forms in the automotive industry.

Yours Truly,
Ben Stonyer

Subject: Inventive Idea

HI,

MY NAME IS JACKIE (EARL) WILLIAMS AND LET ME BEGIN BY TELLING YOU I ENJOY THE SIGHT ON HARLEY EARL, NOW I'M NOT SURE IF I'M RELATED IN ANYWAY SHAPE OR FORM, BUT I DO HAVE A VERY CREATIVE IDEA FOR A VEHICLE IF YOU ARE INTERESTED. BUT OF COURSE WILL NOT DIVULGE IT TILL I KNOW I WILL HAVE FULL CLAIM TO IT.

PLEASE INFO ME BACK IF YOU ARE INTERESTED, OR WHERE OR WHOM I SHOULD SUBMIT THIS IDEA TO.

THANKS AGAIN /JACKIE WILLIAMS

Subject: Location of Mr. Earl's Grave

Thanks for informing me that Harley Earl was cremated in West Palm Beach, Florida. Here's wishing you well with your efforts to educate the world about Mr. Earl's important contributions to the automotive world!

Greg Brown

Subject: ....pure sex appeal. LeSabre is an amazing blend  

Like I said, I first saw the Le Sabre when I was about ten years of age and was awed by it.  To be honest with you, the real attraction that this car design has, is pure sex appeal.  The Le Sabre is an amazing blend of male and female.  It's as simple as that.

Kindest / DH

Subject: Le Sabre Dream Car 

I am an avid die-cast model car collector. Even before I ever started collecting, I have always loved concept cars. This is now my favorite category in collecting. I understand there are at least three different die-cast models of the 1951 Le Sabre. Do you have any idea as to where I may find one (them)?

Thank you very much,

Dave Westerback / Stockton, CA

Subject: "50 Million" Car Tokens

My name is Max, and I am an Argentinean automobilia collector whose main interest is the 1950s era. After reading the material you have published on your website I don't have more than words of  congratulations for a great job. It's a shame that GM did not protect its history the way you do.

Anyway, I recently started to collect the souvenirs token/coins/paperweights commemorating the building of the first 50 million cars by GM. Because I found too many kinds of these items (for Chevrolet, Buick, Fisher Body, BOP, Ball Bearings, etc), I contacted Chevrolet Division sending them an email in order to find out how many of these coins were made so I can complete the set. But they replied my saying that they didn't know. That I should search the web. I am a member of the Classic Chevy International club. I was going to write them when I tried first a web search and I found your site - what excellent information you have there.

When I saw the 50 million cars section (www.carofthecentury.com/50_million_cars.htm) I couldn't believe it. So that's why I am sending you this email... to ask you if you know...

  1. how many kinds of coins were produce for the November celebration? (I saw in your page the Ternstedt/Fisher/BOP coins)

  2. why some are of 3 inch diameter; others like coins; and others (I only have one of these) like the 3in ones but with the diameter like the small ones?

Hope you can help me with my collection.

Kind regards from the south,

Max

Afterthought: Many divisions of GM, Chevrolet included, had their history disemboweled by treasury office administrators like Roger Smith who supported and sponsored quickly throwing out all sorts of valuable information on GM's greatest modern history. It's obvious to anyone today with a shred of intellectual capacity that Mr. Smith was jealous of GM's past success and didn't even ever want to try and understand the importance of automotive artistry, all its complex levels and how it sells Detroit's products. 

It's no longer a secret anymore in Detroit that Smith put the word out inside the corporation back in the tumultuous 1980s to crush GM's most influential concept car of the Twentieth Century (Harley Earl's iconoclastic Le Sabre...doing something like this today in GM would be blasphemy). 

In a really creepy way, Smith also went to great length to erase Harley Earl from memory in the media. Thankfully, the current administration of leaders inside GM want to now uphold what's most valuable around the corporation's modern history / they are also more compliant to searching out and discovering what secrets were used by Harley Earl in his exclusive design process and principles that took GM way out in front of all it's competitors.

Answer to Question on: Amount of coins and other memorabilia attached to GM's 50 Millionth Car celebration.

Max - at this point in my research, I'd say it's likely that the amount coined for each item of memorabilia would have very likely been a number amount often used back then. As we know, GM always did things large...so the number of employees GM had working for them back in 1955 celebrating this important milestone was somewhere in the neighborhood of 350,000. 

So up until this point, the "350,000" number is the one I'd use until someone else, who might have kept all the actual records in their basement all these years, comes forward and proves otherwise. But, it's highly likely this valuable information just got the nod to be shredded by the treasury office boys who didn't think and believe it worthy enough to be saved.