Harley Earl implemented "Dynamic Obsolescence" (planned obsolescence) and the "Annual Model Change", tying model identity to a specific year, to further position design as a driver for a company's product success - ideas taken for granted today, but were unusual at the time.
Earl’s Y-job was the first car built by a mass manufacturer for the sole purpose of determining the public's reaction to new design ideas. After being shown to the public, the Y-job became Earl's daily driver. He later swapped it out for the 1951 General Motors Le Sabre concept.
Virgil Exner, another college dropout, became a Harley Earl protege and headed up design at Pontiac, leaving to become styling boss at Chrysler, where he penned concepts like 1960’s Plymouth XNR. Exner’s “Forward Look” models of the 1950s changed the course of automotive design.
When GM designer Chuck Jordan spotted Exner’s “Forward Look” cars through a fence at a Chrysler plant, he raced back to tell his boss Bill Mitchell, who rode back out with Jordan that afternoon to take a look. Mitchell then started alternate designs at GM to mimic Exner’s cues.
Ford then copied from GM. So not only was Exner the author of Chrysler’s new design direction, but he was also directly responsible for a new direction in GM design, and indirectly, at Ford. This old video highlights the design-centered process at Chrysler. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=b6L0ykX9lPU …
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