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Harley Earl was a man ahead of his time. Way back in 1950, he became the first automotive designer to hire women. But it wasn’t an “equality in the workplace” kind of decision – Earl’s “Damsels of Design” were brought onboard for their design talents.
The reasoning behind his hiring strategy was simple. He believed that women possessed unique insight and excellent attention to detail. He knew these types of talents where indispensable when it came to designing interiors, suggesting colors and selecting fabrics.
The women of automotive design are in the spotlight once again. GM has recently honored these trail blazers, along with the women who are currently making a difference in the industry at the Museum of the City of New York. This new generation of female designers include Kimberly Wu at Honda, Kerrin Liang of Hyundai, Michelle Christensen at Acura and Christine Park of Cadillac. It also gave rise to discussions regarding role of women in auto design and why there’s still a shortage in the industry today.
“This issue about why there are so few women is an omnipresent matter,” said Imre Molnar, dean of the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit. “The industry is changing slowly but significantly.”
So why is it such a challenge to tempt women into the industry? According to the experts, it’s because fewer women than men are into cars, so designing them isn’t that appealing. To back up that statement, of the 15 to 18 people who graduate from Center for Creative Studies’s transportation-design program each year, only two or three are women. You’ll find the same numbers at Art Center for Design in Pasadena, California, where one in 10 graduates is a woman.
The question is how is this issue overcome? “Arguably the best way to do it is to create a culture internally where women can do very well and thrive and prosper,” Molnar said. “That way it would feed on itself, and more women would be attracted to it.”
After his retirement as the head of GM’s Art & Color Design Studio, Harley J. Earl was presented with this unique 1963 Chevrolet Corvette roadster. Equipped with a 327 cubic inch V8 engine and four-speed manual gearbox, the unique blue Corvette is scheduled to cross the block at Mecum’s 23rd Annual Spring Classic Car Auction at Indianapolis, Indiana, on Saturday, May 22.
After owning the car for two years, Earl sold it to a retired U.S. Army veteran. The vehicle then disappeared for roughly a decade, finally resurfacing again at the Corvettes at Carlisle event. In 1981, a school teacher by the name of Joe Clark purchased the one-of-a-kind Corvette from some amateur racers and began collecting information surrounding the rare Chevy sports car. Today, the Harley Earl ’63 has been restored to its former glory, including the stainless steel side exhausts, racing stripes and uniquely trimmed interior. The car comes with its original hand written Shop Order code, authenticating it as a one off, factory built special. When it does go up for auction, enthusiasts and collectors will have a chance at owning a rare piece of automotive history, a car that belonged to one of the greatest automotive stylists in history.
For more info on the car and the auction visit Mecum.com
[Source: Old Cars Weekly]