From the early days of General Motors Corp. Motoramas, the public has been allowed to see only the end results of car designers' visions—and it was only during the 1950s that concept cars began to be exhibited en masse at international auto shows. Those early shows were the first interface between the public and prospective cars, which until that time had gone from concept to production without leaving the auto makers' studios.
But even the concept cars were the products of a closed process. The sketches, styling bucks and scale models were still confined to the studios, and in the overwhelming majority of cases were destroyed soon after their completion. The same fate often befell concept cars themselves, with only the most important styling exercises being spared by the auto makers, consigned to dusty company collections.
A new film that's currently in production seeks to clarify a profession that has only recently received wide acknowledgement from auto makers themselves—remember those Harley Earl TV ads from a few years ago?
Filmmakers Greg Salustro and Robert Edwards are producing a new documentary titled “American Dreaming” that will shed light on American automotive styling from 1946 till 1973, a world that only the most committed enthusiasts have had a glimpse of. The film will feature interviews with automotive designers who worked on some of Detroit's most important cars from the immediate post-war era.
The film will seek to highlight the rarest pieces of automotive design—the sketches that were often destroyed by the studios after they had served their purposes—and will give viewers a glimpse of the cars that could have been.
The filmmakers have reached out to a number of automotive designers from that era, including Bill Porter from Pontiac; George Krispinsky from Packard; Rodell Smith, who worked for Chrysler Corp. and Ford Motor Co.; and Bill Brownlie, who also designed cars at Packard Motor Car Co.