Gear: Book Review: The Art and Colour of General Motors

Book Review: The Art and Colour of General Motors

By Benjamin Shahrabani
September 24, 2014

The book: The Art and Colour of General Motors

Author: Jonathan A. Stein

Pages: 320, hardcover

Purchase: Click here

Photography by Michael Furman

The Art and Colour of General Motors is a beautiful large-format book that covers over a century of General Motors design, and takes its name from the design division, originally called the Art and Color Section, the brainchild of company president Mr. Alfred P. Sloan. On June 23, 1927, the Executive Committee of General Motors approved the creation of this new department to “study the question of art and colour combinations in General Motors products.” To aid in this pursuit, Sloan hired Mr. Harley Earl as its head, a custom coachbuilder from Hollywood, California, and the creator of the 1927 LaSalle, widely regarded as the beginning of modern American automotive styling. Under Earl’s watchful, talented eye for three decades, GM’s design studio would raise the bar for American automotive styling.

Utilizing a mixture of historical images from The General Motors Archives and private collections, as well as more contemporary photographs by Mr. Michael Furman, this hardcover commences with a 1903 Cadillac Model A, and ends with a 2009 Chevrolet Camaro, but includes an incredible cross section of important designs from GM in-between, including the amazing “Motorama” dream cars of the 1950s when GM went “Showbiz” and captured peoples’ imaginations defining a generation. Supporting this imagery is editor Mr. Jonathan A. Stein, who does a wonderful job editing text from Mr. Bob Lutz, former vice chairman of global product development for GM, and Mr. Nicola Bulgari, a renowned car collector, both of whom contribute introductory materials alongside ten prominent auto journalists who have their say on the histories of the cars, and GM design. Taken together, pictures and words paint a detailed tableau of GM’s Art and Color section. There is even commentary on what went wrong, especially during the post-oil crisis era, and what is going right with contemporary GM design at the time of this book’s publication.

These stunning photos and lush production quality from Coachbuilt Press of The Art and Colour of General Motors elevate the book way above the usual pictorial titles from other automotive publishers, and recent events aside, there can be little argument that GM has made significant contributions to the world of automotive design. Earl invented GM Design and his protégé, Mr. Bill Mitchell, who carried on his legacy were vital in the creation of enduring, iconic designs that have influenced, and continue to influence long after their passing. This book is a must-have for anyone who has a love affair with the design, romance and beauty of great American automobiles. Beautiful photography, and well written words makes this tome a wonderful addition to the collection of almost any auto enthusiast, even if you’re not a General Motors aficionado specifically.

To purchase the book, click here.

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Dustin Rittle
Dustin Rittle
9 years ago

This definitely looks like a must buy whether or not you are GM fan. Hopefully it will warm up a few hearts to the American brand.

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