|Fisher Body Craftsmans
Guild model car
|Fisher Body Craftsmans
Guild Napoleonic Coach model
The Fisher Body Craftsmans
Guild was an automobile design competition which
challenged boys to design and build a model of
their own "idea" for a future car. The
competition, conducted annually until 1968, gave
boys between the ages 11-19 the opportunity to
express their imagination, their design talent,
their technical skills and, most importantly,
their creative ingenuity in the design and building
of a model car.
As much fun as it sounds, designing and building
a model car took many hours of hard work--thinking
and drawing ideas; picking the best one to build;
searching for clay or the right block of wood;
carving or sculpting their design; constantly
refining the 3-D design; making the detail parts
including wheels; painting the body and assembling
the parts; and, finally, packing the model to
ship to Detroit with the deadline looming. This
was not an easy task for a young inexperienced
But the prizes for the winners were substantial--cash
awards for State Winners and college scholarships
for National Winners. This is how it worked. After
each model was judged by a team of GM Designers
and Industrial Arts Teachers, State Winners were
notified and given their cash award. Regional
Winners were given an all-expenses-paid trip to
the 4 day Guild National Convention in Detroit.
Nerves were on edge until the Annual Banquet,
where, in the presence of prominent Educators
and GM Executives, the National Award Winners
were announced and broadcast live to anxious parents
and friends. Later in the convention, these young
designers would spend a morning in the GM Styling
Studios talking to professional designers and
seeing first hand how real cars were designed.
While National Winners go home with scholarships,
all the participants go home inspired.
The Fisher Body Craftsmans Guild began in
1930 as a competition to build a Napoleonic Coach
(image below) with awards based solely on craftsmanship.
By 1938, with the increasing interest in car styling,
the Craftsmans Guild introduced a new category
designing and building a model car. The
interest in the car design competition was so
overwhelming that the Napoleonic Coach was dropped.
By 1968, when the Craftsmans Guild was concluded,
over 8.7 million youths had enrolled over the
life of the competition, millions of dollars in
Awards had been given and many lives had been
touched some profoundly. Thru the years,
the Craftsmans Guild represented rock-solid
values. Young men learned that perseverance was
essential and that hard work paid off. They enjoyed
a sense of pride and accomplishment that comes
from a constructive and positive activity
plus the joy of working with their hands and mind
to create their very own design.
Many scholarships are given each year to young
people with outstanding athletic ability or an
outstanding scholastic record. What made the Craftsmans
Guild unique was recognition and reward for young
people with outstanding creative ability.
Bill Porter, a top GM Designer, now retired, said
it another way, "One of the great things
the Craftsmans Guild did for American Design
was that it identified talent at an early age
so that these young people could proceed to get
professional educations. In many fields requiring
trained talent, like music and sports, the process
of early identification is well established. Not
so with design. Many young people with design
talent do not learn of the possibilities until
they are in college thus missing out on
the valuable skill-acquiring years as a teen when
learning comes easiest."
The FBCG helped identify and mature a whole generation
of design talent. Its no surprise that many
Guild participants, after their formal training,
entered the Automobile Industry and dedicated
their careers to designing and engineering automobiles.
But not all. Some made their mark in Architecture,
Urban Planning, Interior Design, Science, Education,
Medicine and many other professions.
Chuck Jordan, winner of the 1st National Scholarship
Award in 1947 and graduate of MIT, had this to
say at the time of his retirement as GM Design
Vice President, "Ive always been grateful
for my experience in the Craftsmans Guild.
That experience has paid big dividends. In fact,
when I think about it, my life has really been
one big Guild Competition, designing and modeling
cars, just like I did when I was 19 except
these models are full-size and they compete with
the best in the world."
Fisher Body Craftsman's Guild ad
Body Craftsman's Guild ad
Body Craftsman's Guild Competition ad