The GM Design team shared a series of rare, little-known automotive sketches on social media this week, which were being stored in a scrapbook put together by the automaker’s former vice president of design, Harley Earl.
These sketches were shared on the GM Design Instagram page on Thursday and were completed by various automotive designers throughout the 1930s and 1940s. One of our personal favorites from this collection is of an early 1940s Cadillac Series 62, which was completed by celebrated designer Art Ross in mid-1937. Ross worked alongside Bill Mitchell during the design process of the first-generation Cadillac Series 62, who was recruited by Earl to work for GM’s Art and Color studio in 1935. Mitchell eventually replaced Earl as lead designer at GM in 1958 after he reached GM’s mandatory age of retirement at 65. As many readers of this site already know, Mitchell would go on to pen iconic designs for GM like the 1963 Buick Riviera and the Corvette Stingray Racer concept.
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GM Design says these sketches, which were kept in scrapbooks in Earl’s office, are now some of the earliest examples of design artwork in the GM Design Archive & Special Collections. Today’s automotive designers have all sorts of tools at their disposal when imagining new automobiles, from computer rendering software to life-sized clay sculptures and more, so it’s interesting to see how designers did their jobs when all they had was a pencil and a piece of paper. Despite the limited tools they had, the resulting sketches were still highly complex and intricate. There’s a reason today’s automotive designers look up to guys like Earl and Mitchell, after all.