The Bodybuilders is a color documentary filmed by Fisher Body between 1970 and 1972. Fisher Body was an automobile coachbuilder founded by the Fisher brothers in 1908, in Detroit, Michigan, and was dissolved in 1984 to be blended into General Motors. This film looks at the engineering and manufacturing needed to produce car bodies and their assembly.
The film opens showing industrial metal stamping machinery, presses, and sewing machines all doing their work making automobile parts that are to be assembled into Chevrolet Monte Carlos (0:08–2:00).
The Bodybuilders begin with product engineers who produce the concepts and ways of accomplishing those concepts (2:19–3:41). Computer printer (3:42–3:45). Engineers study new concepts and their cost (3:47–4:32).
Stylists put those ideas on paper (4:33–5:23). A Monte Carlo by Chevrolet assembled in 6 manufacturing plants from 1970-1972 (5:24–5:51).
They then focus on the comfort factor of roof, seats, seating space (5:52–6:13).
When all this is done final approval of the styling concept is given (6:13–6:26).
Electronic system called an electronic surface recorder is used to put clay dimensions into engineering drawings (6:52–7:12).
Photogrammetry is used to determine moldings and glass openings (7:13–7:23). Drawings are then transferred to a Honeywell series 200 computers which is called digitizing (7:35–7:45), puts dimensions on Punched tape (7:46–7:47), transferred to magnetic tape (7:49–7:50), and then to storage disks (7:51–7:52).
The Product Engineers use the computer information (7:53–8:23). A computer main frame system (8:24–8:39).
Machines are controlled by this computer information (8:44–9:27). View of engineers doing draftsman drawings (9:28–9:43).
Dies are used to stamp out metal parts (10:01–10:07). Inca, a development of the General Motors manufacturing development organization, helps make the dies (10:08–10:42).
Test bodies are created and tested (10:43–12:13). Road testing the prototype at the Proving Grounds (12:14–12:54).
I think that the future of General Motors will be measured by the attractiveness that we put in the bodies from the standpoint of luxury of appointment, the degree to which they please the eye, both in contour and in color scheme, also the degree to which we are able to make them different from competition.”
— Alfred P. Sloan Jr., in a letter to Fisher Body Corporation president William A. Fisher, September 1927
This article from Mark J McCourt at Hemmings Classic Cars tells the story of GM’s approach to the design and attractiveness of vehicles and was the complete antithesis of Henry Ford’s approach.