California coachwork

  • ty
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15 Mar 2005 02:21 #2955 by ty
ty created the topic: California coachwork
I am working on a project for the michelin design contest. This years theme is Californian. I am looking for a style that is uniquely Californian. I cant think of any cars that were designed and built in California, but I know there were several coachbuilders in California that designed and built bodies for chassis that were made elsewhere. e.g. Murphy of pasadena. Some of these cars were Duesenbergs made for movie stars. Some of these cars were made for rich people who demanded the best and did'nt care how much it cost, making them perfect Duesenberg customers. I have a theory that they created a style that was unique to California, and then was copied by carmakers in the rest of the world. When these companies were gone the cars of California were built elsewhere and modified in California, or custom made to look like no other car in California so there has never been a purely Californian style since the '30s. Does anyone know where I can find more information on this subject?

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  • MICHAEL S SMITH
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15 Mar 2005 04:48 #2957 by MICHAEL S SMITH
MICHAEL S SMITH replied the topic:
TY
HARLEY EARLE WHO BECAME GMS STYLING BOSS UNTIL 1960 0R SO STARTED OUT AS BASICALLY A CAR CUSTOMISER IN CALIFORNIA IF I REMEMEBER CORRECTLY. MAYBE THIS COULD GET YOU INTO AN INTERESTING AREA

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15 Mar 2005 04:55 #2958 by MICHAEL S SMITH
MICHAEL S SMITH replied the topic:
TY

ALSO:
WHEN I THINK CALIFORNIA STYLE THE THINGS THAT COME IMMEDIATELY TO MIND ARE, WOODIES,HOT RODS/DRY LAKE SPEEDSTERS,GEORGE BARRIS KUSTOMS,AND BRUCE MYERS DUNE BUGGIES,

MICHAEL S SMITH ACD LIFE MEMBER #40
851 auburn phaeton
851 auburn sedan
810 cord westchester
812 cord phaeton(ex Tressler Swiss)
812 cord custom s/c beverly
812 cord s/c cabriolet
812 cord s/c beverly
80 866 speedster (pray factory built)

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15 Mar 2005 19:18 #2961 by ty
ty replied the topic: california coachbuilders
I am pretty sure Harley Earl was the son of a coachbuilder and worked in his dads shop. He learned the trade there, and he learned how to design cars by making sculptures of cars as a child. General motors hired him because they were so impressed with the looks of the custom made cars from the Earl's Los Angeles shop.

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15 Mar 2005 21:13 #2962 by MICHAEL S SMITH
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TY
YES, PERHAPS CUSTOMISER WASN'T THE BEST DESCRIPTION, AT THAT TIME HE DID SOME INTERESTING BODIES AND COLOR COMBINATIONS FOR HOLLYWOOD PEOPLE WHICH BROUGHT HIM TO THE ATTENTION OF GM WHICH WANTED TO SMARTEN UP ITS LINE OF CARS.

MICHAEL S SMITH ACD LIFE MEMBER #40
851 auburn phaeton
851 auburn sedan
810 cord westchester
812 cord phaeton(ex Tressler Swiss)
812 cord custom s/c beverly
812 cord s/c cabriolet
812 cord s/c beverly
80 866 speedster (pray factory built)

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  • 29AV8
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04 Nov 2005 00:51 #3872 by 29AV8
29AV8 replied the topic: California car style
'California styling' has always been to borrow heavily from other traditions, the bolder the better. Individual expressions simply did things that people in other places wouldn't have thought of, or would be embarrassed to be seen in. The traditional stucco 'hacienda' styled house borrowed heavily from Moorish designs, for example.

There were several manufacturers in California through the 20's, but for the most part these cars were very traditionally styled. There were 'California Cars', but they were streetcars: Los Angeles Railway had a car design that had open sections at each end with a small enclosed middle. Lots of fresh air, like a convertible car.

Previous images of movie stars in elaborate open customs immediately come to mind. Tom Mix had a 'stable' of neat cars. Somehow, a set of steer horns on the grille of an Auburn, along with a pinto pony paint job, seems uniquely Southern Californian.

Perhaps the most influential designs were out of Kurtiss. With the aircraft industry a major employer, aluminum panel skills were commonplace. Kurtiss racecars set the image of what a racing car was supposed to look like for the entire country for almost two decades. Hot rods were trying to emulate them. Kurtiss-Offys were completely dominant. But as is typical of Caifornia, even these were inspired by the prewar Maserati and Alfa F1 cars, which were seen at the dry lakes.

To my eye, a large, powerful, open roadster with some sort of bold feature(s) and some racing pretense would be the most evocative.

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