Fisher Body Craftsmen’s Guild (FBCG) Reunion & Model Exhibition at Gilmore Car Museum - Old Cars Weekly

Fisher Body Craftsmen’s Guild (FBCG) Reunion & Model Exhibition at Gilmore Car Museum

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The FBCG Reunion & Model Exhibition will take place at the Gilmore Car Museum April 6 – October 1, 2019, near Kalamazoo, MI. The grand opening for the reunion and public inauguration will be April 4-7, 2019. This will be a major automotive design history exhibition (6-month installation) requiring a considerable commitment and investment by the Gilmore organization. www.GilmoreCarMuseum.org

1/12 scale model “Dream Cars,” 1/18 scale model Napoleonic Coaches (from the beginning of the program) and memorabilia (personal and corporate) will be exhibited to celebrate the values, virtues and lessons of General Motors’ historic Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild (1930-1968).

This project has been in the planning phase since September 2017. Guildsmen (former participants) have been contacted across the country and models are currently being shipped or hand-delivered to the Gilmore. Over 100 models have been committed representing state, regional and national scholarship award winners. A Grand Opening Banquet is planned for April 5, 2019, docents will conduct public tours April 4-7 and Guildsmen will address the Gilmore Membership April 7, 2019 as part of the monthly Gilmore Lecture Series.

General Motor’s FBCG was sponsored by the Fisher Body Division from 1930-1968. It was a popular nationwide automobile design competition for youths (ages 11-20) to design, engineer and build 1/12 scale model “Dream Cars,” using their imagination, creativity and ingenuity. The shapes and designs of the models were inspired by the “art form” of Harley J. Earl (VP GM Styling 1940-1958) e.g., “…form follows emotions” and based on public school Industrial Arts curriculum.

Guildsmen used laminated wood (e.g., sugar pine, popular or balsawood) to carve and shape their 3-dimensional concept car models, while others, used plaster, fiberglass or rigid polyurethane. Harley J. Earl, Chuck Jordan and Bill Mitchell (GM Styling then GM Design) organized and ran the FBCG model car competitions.

At the end of the school year, the Guildsmen shipped their finished 1/12 scale model creations to the Fisher Body Engineering & Administrative offices at 12 Mile Road & Van Dyke Avenue, Warren, MI. The program was popular among teenagers and thousands of entries were received annually. The models were scored based originality of design, craftsmanship, workmanship, aesthetics, appearance, scale fidelity and practicality.

GM’s Styling Staff (later called Design Staff) scored the amateur automobile designs in concert with Industrial Arts teachers from the Detroit School System. Together, they awarded college scholarships to national winners, cash awards to state winners, as well as trophies and “Certificates of Design and Craftsmanship.”

The scholarships were worth thousands of dollars and enabled many of the talented Guildsmen to pursue design training at professional schools (e.g., Pratt Institute, Art Center College of Design) or at similar colleges/universities with Industrial Design programs in Transportation Design or Product Design. Many had successful careers in the burgeoning field of Industrial Design.

Many lives were changed by the FBCG and many Guildsmen came to Detroit to work in the field of automobile design and engineering. Some got their “dream job” of designing the next generation of Corvettes, Camaros and GTO’s. Others were highly successful rising to key corporate Design Executive positions including (to name a few): Charles M. “Chuck” Jordan (VP GM Design, 1986-1992), Virgil M. Exner, Jr. (Ford Motor Co.), Terry R. Henline (GM Design and Advanced Design Center), Ronald C. Hill (GM Design), Ronald J. Will (Subaru of America), Geza Loczi (Volvo Monitor & Concept Center), and Thomas H. Semple (Nissan Design America). Mr. Jordan’s 1947 model will be on display.

The site where all the important Guild business occurred (e.g., model scoring/grading, the Annual Guild Convention and the GM VIPs awarding scholarships) was at the GM Tech Center, Fisher Body Engineering & Administrative building auditorium located at 30001 Van Dyke Avenue (until 1984) in Warren, MI. Although the Guild scholarship program operated from 1930 to 1968, this site is where all the “action” played out from 1955 to 1968.

For further information about this event, please contact Paul Tatseos of Bloomfield Hills, MI CONTACT: paul@tatseos.com 248-766-2474 or Rich Ray of Brighton, MI CONTACT: richray2@hotmail.com , 810-333-2498. Also, most importantly, Mr. Chris Shires, Executive Director, Gilmore Car Museum. CONTACT: cshires@gilmorecarmuseum.org

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