While the originality
and craftsmanship exhibited in the model car designs entered in this contest sponsored
by Fisher Body Craftsman's Guild is unassailable, I find myself being grateful that
most of them never hit the car lot showrooms (although some designs are not too
far off of what has been produced here and in Europe). The date of this Air
Trails - Hobbies for Young Men magazine article was 1954 and imaginations ran
wild with concept car configurations, and while just about anything goes in such
competitions, some were downright, dare I say it?, ugly. Of course a look at some
of today's concept cars register the same emotions, so I suppose the old adage about
the more things change, the more things stay the same holds true here. Scholarships
handed out to the teenage entrants were very respectable, especially for 1954 -
a $4,000 top prize, which per the Bureau of Labor Statistics'
inflation calculator, is equivalent to $41,095 in 2021 dollars!!!
University Scholarships Go to Top Car Modelers
Awards valued at $420,500 have been handed
out to 131 master model builders. And it's fun!
Since the Fisher Body Craftsman's Guild was created in 1930 more than 3,500,000
young fellows from ages 12 through 19 have competed for almost half a million dollars
in cash awards and college scholarships. This year $90,000 was awarded in the form
of 686 "state" prizes, 40 "regional" prizes and 8 university scholarships. Formed
to encourage young men in a study of the crafts, the Guild offers gratis membership
to any fellow 12 through 19. With your membership card you receive a lapel emblem
and manual of instructions on how to enter the 1955 auto designing-model building
competition. Members receive periodically the "Guildsman" publication. Information
and applications may be secured from Fisher Body Craftsman's Guild, General Motors
Building, Detroit, Michigan.
First place scholarship award of $4,000
in the senior division taken by this convertible entered by Gary A. Graham, Bellingham,
Washington (left and above). Long-time model plane contest flyer, he's won more
than 20 trophies and other plane awards. He spent as much time designing this car
as he did building it. Gary's bass wood model is his fourth entry to win regional
top honors. Gary now attends Western Washington College of Education. He hopes to
become an architectural engineer or industrial designer. James E. Goodman, GM's
general manager, in center.
First place award of $4,000 in the junior
division went to this sedan built by James C. Fry, Clinton, Illinois, a previous
regional winner (right and above). James is aiming for an automobile designing career.
After making a clay model he transferred his design to a block of laminated poplar
wood using a block plane and spoke shave. Moldings. bumpers, grille and headlight
housings were made from sheet brass and polished with emery cloth to a bright finish.
Second place junior prize ($3,000) was awarded
to Charles Pelly, Los Angeles, California, for this sleek entry. This was Charles'
first attempt in the Fisher Body competition. He says designing the car was the
most interesting part of the project. From final sketch he made a set of templates
for a clay model. When the clay model was accurately shaped Charles applied a coat
of rubber mold material and plaster on the outside. After the model was cast he
went to work with sandpaper to give it a smooth finish for painting. Trim work was
brass; window moldings were model RR track.
More than 100 preliminary sketches and almost
600 hours of working time were put in by Stanley F. Denek of Detroit, Michigan,
on this junior entry which placed third for a $2,000 award. Stanley carved his convertible
from a piece of laminated white pine. Outline was traced on the block of wood, excess
stock cut away with saw and chisel. After model was accurately shaped he made indentations
for the chrome moldings; trim came from aluminum stock. Stan is a high school student;
hopes to enter General Motors Institute of Technology and study automotive designing.
Winner of a $1,000 scholarship and 4th place
in the junior section, John W. Bartley, Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, sketched
for nearly eight months before he came up with the final design for his entry. Construction
took about 240 hours. From his drawings he prepared a clay model; from this he made
templates and then roughed out the design in sugar pine with a hunting knife. The
finer details were carved out with a very sharp X-acto knife and razor blades. All
metal parts were cut from aluminum sheets, shaped, sanded with a wet emery cloth
Second senior scholarship of $3,000 was
won by William C. Bailey, Dallas, Texas, with this 2-door hardtop. He entered the
Craftsman's Guild in '50 and won a 1st in state judging. With the money he purchased
tools to build more models. William carved his model from laminated poplar wood
using gauges, chisels and files. The model was finished with 180 to 320 grit sandpaper
and painted. Wheel discs and hub caps were made on a lathe; back wheels are attached
by screws; the front wheels are mounted on an axle. Bill has just entered Kansas
Fifty-six coats of finishing material were
sprayed on this car by Aime DeReggi of Wilmington, Delaware, third-place winner
in the senior division of a $2,000 scholarship. Made of white pine, this car, when
sanded, received 10 coats of sanding sealer, 35 coats of primer and 11 coats of
lacquer! Each application was carefully sanded to avoid flaking or chipping. Aime,
a long-time model plane builder, came to America from France in 1947. He is a junior
at the University of Delaware and is preparing for a career in engineering. Chrome
on this car model is simulated by polished aluminum.
An interest in sports cars prompted Jerry
Sutton of Fresno, California, to enter this sleek convertible. Jerry, a student
at Fresno State College, majoring in engineering, was awarded 4th in the senior
division - a $1,000 scholarship. A piece of locust wood was rasped and filed to
rough shape, then sanded. Final painting was with Titian Red lacquer. Last coat
was rubbed down with pumice and polished with silver polish, then several coats
of hard gloss wax added the finishing touch. Jerry's hobbies are swimming, hiking,
fishing, archery, mathematics and physics.
Posted October 30, 2021
(updated from original post on 8/10/2013)