Category: Bill Mitchell

Were Cadillac’s first tailfins originally destined for a Vauxhall? – Daniel Strohl @Hemmings

Were Cadillac’s first tailfins originally destined for a Vauxhall? – Daniel Strohl @Hemmings

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Pretty much every history of automotive tailfins establishes the Harley Earl-led field trip of GM designers in 1940 to see the then-secret P-38, then jumps right on ahead to 1948, when the newly restyled Cadillac debuted, tailfins and all. Franklin Q. Hershey often gets a nod, and that’s about all most people care to dig into it.

Were they to dig a little further, though, they might discover a more meandering development path for the tailfin, one that nearly placed the feature onto Vauxhall’s postwar cars instead of Cadillac’s.

The story of the tailfin—at least, as it appeared on postwar production American automobiles and not on the odd custom car or land-speed racer—does indeed begin with that field trip to Selfridge Field near Detroit, where Earl pulled some strings to get his studio chiefs a good look at the twin-boom Lockheed P-38 Lightning, a plane designed specifically as an interceptor. And indeed, as Michael Lamm and Dave Holls noted in A Century of Automotive Style: 100 Years of American Car Design, the P-38 proved plenty inspiring.

Pretty much every history of automotive tailfins establishes the Harley Earl-led field trip of GM designers in 1940 to see the then-secret P-38, then jumps right on ahead to 1948, when the newly restyled Cadillac debuted, tailfins and all.

The designers got all excited about the P-38, especially since they could see its twin tails as extensions of a car’s rear fenders. They went back to their studios and started doing sketches of cars with tailfins. The P-38 also prompted other aircraft motifs: Plexiglas canopies, various types of air intakes, grille spinners and bumper bullets.

Among those who Earl invited: Bill Mitchell; Ned Nickles; and Hershey, who returned from a stint in Europe the year before to head the Cadillac advanced studio. Hershey reportedly became fascinated with the tailfin idea before moving on to other projects and, eventually, going back overseas to serve in the Navy during the war.As William Knoedelseder wrote in FINS: Harley Earl, the Rise of General Motors, and the Glory Days of Detroit, Hershey saw nature and poetry in those fins.

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1967 COPO Corvette ordered by GM designer Bill Mitchell set for auction – Bob Golfen @ClassicCars.com

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The well-documented one-of-a-kind convertible will be offered by Russo and Steele at its Scottsdale sale in January

A one-of-one 1967 Chevrolet Corvette COPO, special ordered by General Motors design head Bill Mitchell for his wife, Marianne, to cruise around in, will be auctioned in January during Russo and Steele’s Scottsdale sale.

Mitchell is credited with the styling of the second-generation Corvette with its signature hideaway headlights, and he obtained this final-year model as a Central Office Production Order, through which dealers and other insiders could create sensational COPO performance cars.

The well-documented one-of-a-kind convertible will be offered by Russo and Steele at its Scottsdale sale in January

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Related – Bill Mitchell’s wife didn’t drive an ordinary Corvette

Bill Mitchell’s wife didn’t drive an ordinary Corvette – Kurt Ernst @Hemmings

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Happy wife, happy life.

Bill Mitchell’s wife didn’t drive an ordinary Corvette

Drop the term COPO, or Central Office Production Order, and most enthusiasts conjure up images of big-block-powered Camaros. The COPO program had more pedestrian roots, however, and was typically used by dealers to special order de-contented vehicles for fleet sales. Sometimes, it served other purposes, too, such as when GM head of design Bill Mitchell wanted to order a new 1967 Corvette convertible for his wife, Marian.

Mitchell had a particular fondness for the second-generation Corvettes, citing a Bahamas diving trip as his inspiration for the Larry Shinoda-designed Corvette Sting Ray. Around April 1967, four months before the third-generation Corvettes entered production, Mitchell reportedly placed an order for a Corvette roadster, using the COPO system with the assistance of Zora Arkus-Duntov.

Read the article here

Related – A farewell to the front-engine Corvette on Route 66

Harley Earl, Bill Mitchell Corvettes offered as single lot at Kissimmee auction Jan 2019 – Larry Edsall @Classiccar.com Journal

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’63 coupe and ’64 convertible created by and for GM styling leaders

The 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray convertible built for Harley Earl and the ’64 Corvette Sting Ray coupe created for his successor, Bill Mitchell, will be offered as a single lot at Mecum Auctions’ Kissimmee, Florida, sale scheduled for January 3-13, 2019.

“This is a singularly historic offering of two of the most significant one-off Corvettes in the model’s history, owned and driven by the two most influential and fascinating figures of the automotive design industry,” Mecum Auctions said in revealing the consignment.

 

See Larry Edsall’s article here