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Creating a car at Chrysler Corporation, 1955

Information and photo source: Chrysler Corporation, 1955

Of all the features of a new car, none is more fascinating to the public than styling. Because of this intense interest, no phase in the creation of a new model is more exacting to the manufacturer. Here you have a rare glimpse of Chrysler Corporation designers and craftsmen at work on a new car.

clay modeler - stylist for cars

Styling begins on the drawing board--where ideas in the rough first appear. Thousands of sketches are made, the basis for the first comprehensive drawings. Next, a model is created in clay, three-eighths full size. There are more revisions, then a full-size blackboard drawing is made to determine production feasibility. Necessary changes are made, then a full-size clay model is produced, so accurate measurements can be made for production blueprints.

Photo: new ideas begin as drawing board “doodles.” They may wind of as part of the finished design or be put on the shelf.

car sketches
Finished model in three-eights scale, large enough to be accurately studied as to form and line. All new car activities are a closely guarded secret, since the design may be three or four years away from production. clay model
Final touches are put on a full-size drawing by a stylist, working from the clay model. From this, mass production techniques will be studied.

The tempo speeds up. A full-size wood mockup is built, complete with window glass, paint and ornarnentation--so skillfully crafted it's difficult to believe it is not a real car.

final drawing
Constant change and revision mark every step. As the project nears completion, a car is built in wood, so finished in every detail that it looks real enough to be driven off. wood car model

Now the sheet metal workers duplicate it in metal. When completed, this pilot model is put through thousands of miles of rigorous and exhaustive test driving to make sure the car is mechanically equal to its styling. Only then, after years of creating, revising and testing, does it receive the "OK" for production and the model starts downthe assembly line.

car prototype

Color and styling

Color has assumed an important new role in automobile styling, especially on the inside. Each year, Americans expect more color and exciting new applications of it in the cars they buy. The current trend is toward lighter shades but people want more spirited colors, too. At Chrysler Corporation, these preferences are carefully studied and analyzed. So are the trends in the world of fashion. People's tastes as indicated by the clothes they wear, their choices in home decorations and furnishings, are a sensitive "barometer" of Acmerica's taste in automobile interiors.

Working with color has become an exact science in Corporation styling studios. Every evaluation of a new color--through all its subtle shades and hues--is made on the basis of facts revealed by this kind of research. One group in particular keeps a sharp eye on the color barometer. This is the interior styling team-- designers, color stylists, fabric designers--which creates "living room fashions" for all new Corporation cars.

These highly skilled specialists have an intimate knowledge of the psychology of color and they combine their talents to make it work effectively for them. At his drawing board the interior designer sketches the details of a new seat pattern, an instrument panel or sidewall panel with glistening body hardware and ornaments to enhance the color that surrounds them. In the "gray room," against the neutral backgrounds that nullify conflicting impressions, the color stylist selects solid colors and combinations that will convey the "feeling" the styling group wishes to bring out.

The fabric designer selects appropriate upholstery material from those she has created especially for the design. Rich in color and texture, they blend harmoniously with the over-all scheme and interior components. This is the styling team at work, creating appealing new fashions on wheels with color--exciting color--always their cue.

Designers Charles Mitchell, Tom Bertsch, and Tom Bingman study preliminary sketches in the process of sifting ideas for a new instrument panel. designers studying designs
Once the design is “set,” it is rendered in full color for careful study of various elements. Gloria Schaeffer completes this stage in this photo. rendering in color
Fabric designer Alice Fortuna examines mill samples of her work, which will be used in upholstery. upholstery smaples
Paul Colbrooke directs a staff of color experts whose job is to continually study new car finishes and color combinations. In a year they analyze thousands of shades and hues. Each is judged for its durability and resistance to fade, as well as beauty. Here, Colbrooke views a color board which matches harmonizing new car paint and fabric samples. paul colbrooke examining color samples

Bob Sheaves added: “That was before my time, but a lot was still current tech up until the late 1980s, when we started to combine functions with CATIA and the manufacturing programs by hooking it to ALIAS (the starting package for 3D surfacing by styling).”

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