Sunday, August 17, 2008

Fisher Body Craftsman's Guild Reunion

The Fisher Body Craftsman's Guild began in 1930 to encourage teenagers to build a Napoleonic coach model from a set of plans. The coach was Fisher Body's trademark and the contest concentrated on following precise instructions that tested the competitors' construction skills. The winners recieved college scholorships worth thousands of dollars.

In 1937 the contest began shifting from craftsmanship to styling with the addition of a design competition. Contestants created a 1/12 scale model dream car. The full force of General Motors' public relations and marketing departments promoted the contest nationwide. Enrollment approached 600,000 members during the 1950's, making the organization second in size only to the Boy Scouts of America.

Regional winners were treated with a trip to Detroit and a tour of the General Motors Tech Center. Design judges came straight from GM's styling staff and many of the winners went on to America's top design schools. FBCG alumni are also represented in the Adrew F. Johnson Gallery including Richard Arbib, Pete Wozena, Bob Cadaret, Bud Magaldi, Milt Antonick, George Anderson and John Perkins.

The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston recently hosted a FBCG reunion and model exhibition. About 60 past contestants brought their 40+ year old models for the event that also included a variety of lectures on car design, model building and automotive history.

The two-day event was well attended with design enthusiasts of all ages. The Guildmen were on hand to answer questions about the models and their careers in design and engineering. The MFA Bookstore published a calatog of the exhibition that includes 93 color photographs.

You can learn much more about Fisher Body Craftman's Guild history in John Jacobus' book and website listed in this blog's Car Design Links section. There's also more about this reunion on Virginia Tatseos' blog.