Harley J. Earl turned making cars into an art and is the designer who created the collector car art market. Considered by the Boston Globe, “the most important figure ever to emerge from Detroit,” Harley’s avant-garde designs sparked America’s love affair with the automobile and revolutionized the auto industry by turning Henry Ford’s function-over-form philosophy on its head. Born and raised in Hollywood, CA and educated at Stanford, Harley Earl got his start designing custom cars for stars of the newly budding film industry including Cecil B. DeMille, Tom Mix, and Fatty Arbuckle. When he teamed with General Motors in 1927 to become their first-ever V.P. of Design, it was his department’s pioneering techniques and artfully designed cars that fueled GM’s meteoric rise in the 30s, 40s and 50s. Spearheading GM’s famed Motorama Shows, creating the world’s first concept cars, initiating annual model changes, fathering the Corvette, having an all-female design team – Earl was a true Renaissance man. Richard Earl, the grandson of Harley J. Earl, joins us in studio to talk about collector cars and his grandfather’s legacy.
Richard Earl, automotive historian and curator of the photo exhibition Automotive Hollywood: A Tribute to Harley Earl