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History Studio X

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Ryan, May 16, 2022.

  1. Ryan
    Joined: Jan 2, 1995
    Posts: 20,507

    Staff Member

    Ryan submitted a new blog post:

    Studio X


    Continue reading the Original Blog Post
  2. BrerHair
    Joined: Jan 30, 2007
    Posts: 4,803


    Pretty fucking cool.
    41 GMC K-18 and VANDENPLAS like this.
  3. 19Fordy
    Joined: May 17, 2003
    Posts: 7,558


    Thank goodness Bill Mitchell had the foresight and fortitude not to cave in
    and sacrifice America's true sports car.
  4. Thanks Ryan, Good read! HRP
    41 GMC K-18, hrm2k and VANDENPLAS like this.

  5. Jeff Norwell
    Joined: Aug 20, 2003
    Posts: 13,999

    Jeff Norwell
    Staff Member

    That..... is....RAD........

    even if it is a Rubber Shark.
    Outback, 41 GMC K-18, hrm2k and 4 others like this.
  6. That is indeed very cool...and thanks to Bill Mitchell for his willingness to circumvent the system.

    While the affected Corvette in the book is off topic for this forum, a similar very interesting story of more recent clandestine activities at GM that enthusiasts might enjoy (I did!) is presented in the book; "All Corvettes are Red" by James Schefter. It too is a very interesting snapshot into the type of activities that had to go on behind the GM bosses backs. I'll drop a teaser...the "Billybob Corvette". Once you've read the book you'll understand.
    Last edited: May 16, 2022
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  7. Ryan
    Joined: Jan 2, 1995
    Posts: 20,507

    Staff Member

    Admittedly, I am biased. I consider the '63-65 Riviera to be one of the best designs in American Automobile history... and so, Bill Mitchell is kind of my dog.

    But you know what I respect most about Bill Mitchell? You can line up all of his designs from the start of his career to the end and they all speak with the same design language. They make sense. Especially if you look at his work from age 50 to 65 or so. By this time he had carte blanche and his designs became almost purely him.

    Park a 1963 Corvette split window next to a 1965 Riviera and a 1973 GMC Motorhome and they feel like a family of sorts. A family with really sharp ideas... I LOVE that.
  8. dana barlow
    Joined: May 30, 2006
    Posts: 4,773

    dana barlow
    from Miami Fla.
    1. Y-blocks

    All Fun to read about.
    Mid 50s I was helping my Dad build and race ,a SCCA H-MOD, went with him too a good number of races.
    Also me an my buddy's went to watch as many races as we could, both road races an oval stockcar,to watch.
    The AMA band was more show then not.
    My Dad's racer ,mid 50s,he let me put it in 3 indoor car shows,55,56 n 57 on weekends that he was not racing.
    Kind of set a pattern ,of me putting my own 28A Bobtail hotrod an then my custom"J" by 1960 into shows for fun.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: May 16, 2022
  9. I've always felt that the approved-for-production-then-canceled-at-the-last-minute Aerovette was the pinnacle of Bill Mitchell's design career. The purity of the design was unequaled at the time and it's a real shame it was never built. One can only imagine the influence this car would have had.
  10. Ryan
    Joined: Jan 2, 1995
    Posts: 20,507

    Staff Member

    The Aerovette was super rad... I just lose fascination once later 70's and 80's era styling cues get introduced. They lost a bit of the Italian flare in favor of more chiseled lines.

    My Bill Mitchell era is the 1960's for sure. Starting with this:


    Moving to The Riv concept:


    And capped with the motorhome concept he did:


    All still have that very chiseled belt line, but accentuated with curves in the right places and a sort of European sensibility to them.

    The Riv will always be my favorite, but the split window isn't far behind. I always thought it would be cool to have a photoshoot with those two cars together. I've seen them parked together before at an event and it was awe inspiring.
  11. ronzmtrwrx
    Joined: Sep 9, 2008
    Posts: 863


    I wonder if there might be any photos in the archives within The Heritage Center in Detroit ? Very cool story by the way.
    VANDENPLAS likes this.
  12. I believe he also had a hand in designing the EM-50 Urban Assault Vehicle

    SS327, silent rick, alanp561 and 10 others like this.
  13. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 9,046


    Wow, covert operations within GM.
    He must have been putting in double duty on time, I assumed he had other responsibilities that had to show progress as well.
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  14. If you've ever sat in a design meeting/brainstorm session you can see a lot of the inspiration revealed in that second shot.
    Last edited: May 16, 2022
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  15. The riviera was leaps and bounds ahead in styling . So was the 63 vette.

    I got a feeling gm knew about the clandestine activities , but was a “don’t ask don’t tell” thing.

    the big 3 in the 50’s to the 70’s was like a saloon in the Wild West , who ever drew first won !

    Great peak behind the curtain.
  16. Ryan
    Joined: Jan 2, 1995
    Posts: 20,507

    Staff Member

    I think you are probably right, but I do know Bill kept a lot of things from accountants... Hell, he used his own money on much of the late development of the XP-87. And according to his book, he wasn't reimbursed until like 1968 or 69...

    I think a big part of it was that Bill wasn't gonna do design by committee.... and there was no way in hell GM was going to fire him... So, he took steps to do whatever the hell he wanted while execs were able to put themselves in a position of plausible deniability if shit went south.

    Very rare creativity from a very big company.
    Special Ed, fauj, dana barlow and 6 others like this.
  17. 31Apickup
    Joined: Nov 8, 2005
    Posts: 2,956


    The Nova restyling for 66-67 was based on the Riviera, there was a concept that had similar headlight treatment to the Riviera. It’s OT but I had thought of doing skinny bumpers on a 67 I had.
    Tman, theHIGHLANDER and 41 GMC K-18 like this.
    Joined: Jun 3, 2005
    Posts: 8,673


    Not many can see that without "assistance" either. 2 of the most perfect, and I mean through polarized lenses perfect, real candy apple red paint finishes came from that studio. I had the good fortune of seeing both at Amelia Island almost 10yrs ago. Still embedded in my psyche. Even the labor forces there were the best in their game. Maybe I can find pics...
    Sancho likes this.
  19. 302GMC
    Joined: Dec 15, 2005
    Posts: 7,250

    from Idaho

    Not to argue about "greatest", but let's not forget his first - the '38 Cad 60 Special ....
    54EARL and downlojoe33 like this.
  20. AngleDrive
    Joined: Mar 9, 2006
    Posts: 1,051

    from Florida

    I wonder if Bill Mitchell and Kelly Johnson were friends.
    Woogeroo likes this.
  21. slowmotion
    Joined: Nov 21, 2011
    Posts: 3,310


    Shear genius, but FWIW, I for one am sure glad those cornered wheel-well openings never got the thumbs up....:eek:

    anothercarguy likes this.
  22. 50Fraud
    Joined: May 6, 2001
    Posts: 10,016


    I'm a fan of the Mitchell design era as well. The Corvette and Riviera are OK with me, but are not my favorites. I like the sporty and elegant hardtops from Chevrolet and Pontiac '61-'62, intermediate Chevelle and Tempest '64-'67, '65 Impala, '67 Camaro, and others of that ilk.
    Special Ed likes this.
  23. Bill Mitchell was a true artist operating in a button down corporate world.
  24. alanp561
    Joined: Oct 1, 2017
    Posts: 2,412


    Wasn't the Riviera supposed to badged as a Cadillac? Seems I read that somewhere.
  25. downlojoe33
    Joined: Jul 25, 2013
    Posts: 451


    Too bad Bill Mitchell isn't around to take the reins and eliminate the cookie cutter shit that passes for automotive styling today.
  26. Tony Hatter
    Joined: Oct 31, 2021
    Posts: 1

    Tony Hatter

    I love your historical posts, especially this one.
    To my surprise I recognized someone.
    The designer in the first two photos is my old boss, Anatole "Tony" Lapine.
    He hired me while he was head of Design (Style Porsche) at Porsche in 1986.
    Sadly he is no longer with us, passed on in 2012.
    He moved within GM to Opel and was soon poached by Ferry Porsche to set up the deign studio in 1969.
    Tony was a genuine old school car guy.
    Loved old cars, auto racing and hot rodding.
    He had a few interesting cars; one he built was an MG TC with a modern (then) Fiat Twin Cam 1600cc motor and trans mounted slightly to the right of center to balance out the weight distribution with driver.
    He also raced, here in Europe, a 1957 Meskowski sprint car which certainly shook up the Maserati 250 F racers to say the least.
    I wish now that I had questioned him about the really early days.
    A real character and sadly missed.
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  27. BrerHair
    Joined: Jan 30, 2007
    Posts: 4,803


    OK wow! Tony you get my vote for best first HAMB post ever. Fantastic.
    Budget36 and Sancho like this.
  28. 31hotrodsedan man
    Joined: Jan 15, 2008
    Posts: 157

    31hotrodsedan man

    Don't think there are many shots out of studio X but there's def a lot of cool concept and heritage pics at . There is an internal Design archive group that's really cool and full of pics/sketches but they don't let any of those get outside.
  29. whoodooman
    Joined: Mar 25, 2013
    Posts: 59

    from TEXAS

    B9D50E66-96CE-4481-8277-062C996E5D3B.jpeg Great post Ryan!

    Contacted my Uncle after reading this post. Been with GM Design since the 80s and just recently retired. He confirmed he has developed several projects in the “Studio X”, referencing the latest car he was at liberty to mention: the 2009 Stingray Concept (I know, not H.A.M.B. friendly).

    He also noted that technically Harley Earl created Studio X, but certainly Bill Mitchell took it to the next level. Chevy, Cadillac, Buick were the primary brands he mentioned that frequented this studio.

    Could not get any pictures out of him, but maybe some could “materialize” in the future. ;)
    Last edited: May 21, 2022
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