Carroll Gantz
Ford, Henry II

This was one of the most successful post-war car designs, that Ford Motor Company from decline. Henry Ford II chose the 1949 Ford design by independent designer George W. Walker over a competing design by Ford Styling Chief Eugene "Bob" Gregorie. The design sold more than a million, and led to Walker being named to replace Gregorie in 1955. The design originated from a clay scale model submitted to Walker by a potential employee, Dick Caleal, but for years was credited to Joe Oros and Elwood Engel of Walker’s office. Caleal had previously been working for Raymond Loewy’s design staff for the Studebaker account under Bob Bourke. Studebaker in 1944 had hired Virgil Exner, previously with Loewy, to head an internal styling group, and had designed the famous 1947 Studebaker. There was hostility between Loewy and Exner, and Exner forced Burke to let go some Loewy staff, Caleal among them. Caleal then applied to Walker for a job. He was given the dimensions for the ’49 Ford by Walker, and told that if he came up with an acceptable design within three weeks, Walker would hire him. Caleal worked at his home in Mishawaka, Indiana, and built the clay model on his kitchen table, with considerable volunteer help from his former boss, Robert Bourke, along with Loewy/Studebaker employees John Bird, John Lutz, and Bob Koto. There are persistent rumors that the design was inspired by previous models designed by Loewy’s group for Studebaker, but were rejected by Virgil Exner, head of styling at Studebaker. Walker loved the Caleal design, hired him, and prepared a full-size mock-up. The aircraft inspired “spinner”-type grill, a feature of the design, is credited to Joe Oros of Walker’s office. Over many years, credit for the design was disputed by many of the participants, but in 2003, the Ford Motor Company officially recognized Dick Caleal as the designer of the 1949 Ford.

100 Years of Design consists of excerpts from a book by Carroll M. Gantz, FIDSA, entitled, Design Chronicles: Significant Mass-produced Designs of the 20th Century, published August 2005 by Schiffer Publications, Ltd.
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