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History Detroit vs. the Customizers

Discussion in 'Traditional Customs' started by Jive-Bomber, Aug 20, 2015.

  1. Jive-Bomber
    Joined: Aug 21, 2001
    Posts: 3,230

    Jive-Bomber
    MODERATOR

    Jive-Bomber submitted a new blog post:

    Detroit vs. the Customizers

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    Continue reading the Original Blog Post
     
    HEMI32 likes this.
  2. flamingokid
    Joined: Jan 5, 2005
    Posts: 2,199

    flamingokid
    Member

    I think it was more of a horse race,different horses taking the lead.The competition made everybody better.BTW,I have the model in mint condition. ;)
     
    Martin Harris likes this.
  3. Barris was being more than a bit disingenuous when claiming they 'beat' Detroit on many things. Both were stealing ideas from the aircraft industry, not to mention the custom coachbuilders that still existed in fairly large numbers at that time. And keep in mind that most (if not all) of the 'new' designs that arrived in '49 had been developed during WWII, so those designs predated their introduction by four years or more. The fact that Detroit had to make a conversion from war production back to consumer products delayed these designs; it was far quicker to sell warmed-over prewar designs than to completely retool. Kaiser-Frasier was a year late to market because of this. By the mid-50s, Detroit had surpassed the customizers with low, sleek cars right off the showroom floor (and supplying parts off these for yet more custom fodder on the older cars).

    I'm not saying the customizers didn't turn out some beautiful and/or thought-provoking vehicles; they did. But as practical transportation, most were lacking in some aspect. By the mid-60s, Detroit offerings had become 'styled' to the point that little 'improvement' was possible and 'practical' customizing was dead, leading to the outrageous show cars of the late 60s and beyond.
     
  4. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 8,994

    Rusty O'Toole
    Member

    In a 1962 interview with Tom Wolfe Barris talks about a visit he got from a top Cadillac stylist. Barris was surprised to learn how closely Detroit followed what he was doing, no doubt via the car magazines. The guy was especially interested in the paint effects the custom car guys were getting, like candy apple.

    Barris wasn't too impressed at first, when the guy said he was from Cadillac he assumed he was from the local dealership. Only later did he figure out the guy came from Detroit to meet him lol.

    Detroit was famous for companies stealing ideas from each other, or wherever they could find them and the customizers were equally famous for putting together parts from various cars to get a new look. So everybody was pretty much chasing each other's tails.
     
    Martin Harris likes this.
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  5. CadMad
    Joined: Oct 20, 2012
    Posts: 492

    CadMad
    Member

    Everytime I go out to my shed and look at the rear end of my 57 Biarritz, I wonder how such an incredible custom design ever came out of a large commercial manufacturer.
     
  6. Rand Man
    Joined: Aug 23, 2004
    Posts: 3,372

    Rand Man
    Member

    I noticed you used the Lincoln Futura concept car as your cover photo (which Barris later turned into the Batmobile). Coincidence?
     
  7. Look at a Hudson Hornet...now look at a Merc...rumor was Ford had spy's sent in to look at the car...
     
  8. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 8,994

    Rusty O'Toole
    Member

    48 Hudson and 49 Merc were both basically prewar designs, originally meant for 1943 models. They did look quite a bit alike but I believe the designers were following up similar lines of thought not copying each other. Look at some other cars of the period like 1949 Packard, 1946 Kaiser, even the Porsche 356 show similar lines.
     
  9. Torchie
    Joined: Apr 17, 2011
    Posts: 995

    Torchie
    Member

    Once the early days of the auto industry were over and it was narrowed down to only a few Manufacturers there have always been design similarities between the makes. Like all art. Everybody steals from everybody. What came first? The chicken or the egg?????
    Torchie
     
  10. Blade58
    Joined: Mar 5, 2012
    Posts: 303

    Blade58
    Member
    from apopka ,Fl

    Even today Detroit relies on the Customizers for ideas that are displayed at SEMA,
     
  11. The Continental
    Joined: Aug 23, 2011
    Posts: 363

    The Continental
    Member
    from Texas

    The step down Hudson was styled with a fake Buick rendering in mind.
     
  12. CadMad
    Joined: Oct 20, 2012
    Posts: 492

    CadMad
    Member

    In the 90s I met Cadillac designer Dave Holls who helped on the 59 as well as doing the 54 55 ElCamino and LaEspada dream cars. He told me his dad had a step down Hudson and that the rear fuselage ,tapering shape of the 59 was partly influenced by memories of the Hudson.
     
  13. weez
    Joined: Dec 5, 2002
    Posts: 860

    weez
    Member

    Whenever I read about customizers saying Detroit copied them, I always think about all the trick styling- scoops, headlights, etc. on early '50s European sportscars that were years ahead. I know Detroit concepts were 5-10 years ahead of production cars, but it seems like it was more spacey and out-there, whereas some of the the coach built Euro sports cars literally had scoops with teeth, canted quad lights, fins, etc. I think Detroit designers were probably more romanced by the attitude of American custom cars, the art, the colors and how everything was arranged in a personal vision than the actual styling cues which were a lot of the same things that had been bouncing around for years. That's just what I've observed from my limited window into the past.
     
  14. Martin Harris
    Joined: Aug 3, 2014
    Posts: 315

    Martin Harris

    Barris has been "more than a bit disingenuous" about many things over the years.
     
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  15. theHIGHLANDER
    Joined: Jun 3, 2005
    Posts: 7,823

    theHIGHLANDER
    Member

    I've been in the Motor State my whole life. I've seen a lot of change from both sides and pretty much gave up on all of it a couple decades ago when everything had to be an egg, or more realistic, a turd with a taper at each end. Did they steal from each other back then? Too young to know or care in the glory days. What I did see was that both, prolific custom artisans and designers, got lost for a while. Too weird, too spacey, too foolish at times. Thankfully what we got in the showrooms wasn't some of the sci-fi stuff that littered car shows, both custom and the OEM versions through those dark days. Some of you really dedicated kustom guys know what/when I mean.

    This is not to say it was a bad thing at all. Well, maybe the 59 Cadillac really was. I can't think of one I'd want except for one of the Pinninfarina versions that "fixed" some of the excess. I like the 60 better, then the 61 simply nailed it, didn't it? By 64 the gratuitous fin became more proportioned, then of course by 65 forward it was a simple design element. We outgrew it. The Lincolns didn't keep them very long either. Simple elegance after the Premieres, and the Mark II Continental made a bold statement about the future. Whether or not the Golden Sahara had the 1st "spare in sheetmetal" doesn't matter, but I'm sure that the clay models for the Mk II were years ahead of the real thing. The rear spare element was delivered to the public as "Continental" in 1940. It was covered in sheetmetal but still a stand alone, so who really copied who there? Edsel copied Europe, that's who, and that's only if you need to use the word "copy" instead of "inspired", right? I mounted a 33 Ford fender brace just like a Packard so the carriage bolts normally seen are now gone. Did I copy or get inspired? Maybe I'm a little bit naive with this thought, but my years in this game (a lifetime really) have been approached with a sense of camaraderie. With the sense that we're all colleagues, perhaps pulling on different ropes, but sort of pulling them all in the same direction. Nice topic...
     
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  16. denis4x4
    Joined: Apr 23, 2005
    Posts: 3,335

    denis4x4
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Colorado

    Ford had a touring show of seven or eight vehicles done by all of the big name custom car builders in the sixties. Lots of the speed equipment manufactures had projects from Detroit due to the fact that they could make things happen quickly, economically and without administrative red tape.
     

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