Harley Earl – GM Designer Extraordinaire

Harley Earl, the larger than life, first head of styling for a major automobile manufacturer gave the world the joy of excess in color, chrome and steel. Recruited by GM in the late 20s to transform its drab autos and make them stand out from the offerings of its competitors, Earl transformed the industry and the American psyche.

He invented the annual model change over, the concept car and put swagger and some Hollywood panache into a staid industry. While its hard to defend his buoyant designs as fine art, he captured the imagination of millions worldwide, especially in Post WWII America, who embraced the outlandish vehicles as proof that there will be a big and better tomorrow. He knew how to create and sell dreams. Which is what he learned from his neighbor, C. B. DeMille.

4 thoughts on “Harley Earl – GM Designer Extraordinaire

  1. I’m not an automobile aficionado, but I do appreciate a classic car when I see one. They started getting ugly in the 70s and 80s, to the point where today most of the things on the road are eyesores. Whenever I see one of these big SUVs or gigantism-afflicted pickup trucks in front of me, I’m always put in mind of a fat woman’s huge ass. That’s how sordid and unsightly they are. Whatever happened to the tailfin, anyway? Motorcycles used to be a lot leaner and meaner-appearing, too, but now most of the ones I see are as clunky as the chubby old rebels riding them.

    • I like the design on those late fifties cars. I like the architecture too. I dunno, I like a lot of things from that era.
      I agree most things just look crappy now a days.

      • Another thing that irritates me when I go out for a walk or I’m driving someplace is these damned oblong or sperm-shaped banners called “sail flags” that are ubiquitously planted in the ground by the road in front of places like cell phone stores. Look at this appallingly tawdry roadside litter and imagine how people accustomed to art deco or 1950s googie starburst sign lettering would have reacted to seeing something like this in front of a store:

      • Some place around here had those ugly things up for a few days but the wind kept knocking them down.
        They disappeared shortly after that never to be seen again.

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