By the end of this year, some of the oldest carmakers
in the US like Ford, Cadillac, Oldsmobile and Buick will
have celebrated their 100th anniversaries as automakers.
But how many people know that automotive design is only
75 years old?
that means is, 75 years ago, getting a car with some style
meant you could have any colour you wanted as long as
it was black.
the year 1926 Alfred Sloan, then president of General
Motors, realised that all cars were very similar to each
other and design was going to be a deciding factor in
purchases. So he set up an art and colour section to GM
and got Harley Earl to head it up.
Earl was running a speciality auto body shop in Hollywood,
California, much like Dilip Chhabria does in Mumbai. Earl
took Cadillacs, Buicks and Ford Model Ts and fashioned
custom-built coaches for movie stars.
went on to influence design by giving recognisable features
to cars such as chrome, tail fins, curved windshields,
and the infamous
Motoramas. He also delivered the first concept car, the
low, wide Buick Y-job. Never meant to be built, the Y-job
was instead a conceptualisation of the company's design
today, Earl's design legacy still influences modern cars.