Summary of Mistake of '58: The GM Chromemobiles and Far Out '59s

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In 1958, GM's design team was caught off-guard by Chrysler's release of several stylish and futuristic models. In response, they created a series of radical designs for the 1959 GM cars. However, these were ultimately rejected by GM's CEO, Harley Earl, in favor of the traditional designs. This led to GM's decline in the automotive industry until the design team was able to make changes in the early 1960s.

  • 00:00:00 In the late 1950s, car designers were caught up in an all-out designer's war. One of the driving forces behind the design of the quintessential 50s cars was Harley Earl, the head of the design department at General Motors. While Harley Earl is usually credited with all the great designs, he wasn't the only one at General Motors working on car designs; one of the employees credited with some of the most innovative car designs of the era was designer Chuck Jordan. Jordan was highly impressed with Chrysler's 1957 Plymouths, which looked far out and space age.
  • 00:05:00 In 1958, GM's rival, Chrysler, released several models that were more colorful and extravagant than GM's traditional designs. This caused Chuck Rushton, head of GM's design department, to return to the company. He saw that Chrysler was about to overtake GM in terms of styling, and he immediately told his colleagues. They went back to the factory to see the designs for themselves. However, the CEO, Harley Earl, was not involved in the design process, and the designs were not well received. This contrasted sharply with Earl's more simplistic and sleek designs from earlier in the decade. A historic contrast emerged between the long and sleek Chrysler cars and the heavy and bulky chrome-laden Latin cars. This problem was solved when Earl retired in 1959.
  • 00:10:00 The 1959 GM cars were criticized for their heavy and bulky design, with many deeming them to look like flying saucers. However, the designs were still locked in, and it would cost a lot of money to switch to a new body after one year. Furthermore, the company was being surpassed by competitors in terms of advanced design. Eventually, Chuck Jordan and the team at GM returned to the design department after visiting the Chrysler factory, and discussed what they should do. However, the changes had to be approved by Harley, and this was never going to happen.
  • 00:15:00 GM designers created a series of radical, futuristic designs for their 1959 cars, but Earl "Big Boss" Lee forced them to continue with the traditional designs. This led to a re-birth of GM's prestige division and a return to the top of the automotive industry.

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