Automobile Design by Henry Gurr

R. Henry Gurr’s book played an important role in my interest in car design. After seeing GM’s show car display in the infield at a USRRC road race at the Riverside International Raceway in 1964 (which included the Monza GT), I had a letter on its way to GM Design Staff the next morning inquiring about how to become a car designer. GM’s response included photos of several of the cars I mentioned seeing, a list of schools I might consider, and a recommendation to purchase the book, Automobile Design by Henry Gurr. I ordered the book and still have it.

R.H. Gurr had quite a career with Disney after leaving Ford. There is a great interview with Bob Gurr at the Walt Disney Imagineering Fan Club site, and a candid biography at the LaughingPlace which connects Disney fans throughout the world. You’ll really enjoy reading Bob’s the interview and biography.

In Automobile Design are illustrations and renderings by Henry Gurr, Ron Hill, Stan Parker, Bob Caderet, and others. There are several great examples of bold pencil renderings, sports cars in action illustrations, and Prismacolor pencil on Canson.

Be sure to check out the comments for more information and images!



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Back cover copy:
Automobile Design, Subtitle: The Complete Styling Book

Published in 1955 by Dan R. Post Publications, Arcadia, California

Text and Illustrations by R. H. Gurr

Here is the book to open new fields of thought and action for anyone interested in the design and styling of car.

Whether used a the handbook for comprehensive drawing and design instruction, for gaining a qualified background of manufacturers’ view and professional design approach and technique in preparation for automobile styling as a career, for reference to it gold mine of fascinating illustrations in the development of a single glass fiber or steel-bodied custom car, or only to elect from it beautiful renderings suitable for framing Automobile Design is the kind of book you’ll not only enjoy but will be proud to share with friends.

Here are the rudiments of automobile drawing in plain crisp language, with an unequalled selection of supporting sketches and renderings. This is the book that will turn armchair doodler into artist of professional stature, and produce among the casually interested a pencil-pushing effort revealing latent ability.

R. H. Gurr is an outstanding professional automobile designer. His experience following graduation from The Art enter School—the west’s leading job-condition prep school—has included a stint at one of the largest manufacturers in Detroit, special product work as an associate of George Walker Industrial Design, and his recent development of the utopia cars and car and truck antique replicas for Disneyland. He possesses a rare combination of creative and rendering ability, coupled with crystal-clear engineering comprehension.

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Automobile Design is the greatly enlarged, contemporized version of the book originally titled How to Draw Cars of Tomorrow. Coverage of the subject has been improved by the inclusion of important new chapters, together with a great number of additional illustrations, including the rendering work of several other professional automobile designers, among whom are Stan Parker, Ron Hill, and Bob Caderet, all currently of General Motors’ Studios.

Some of the facts pertinently revealed here may shock the reader. Nowhere else between the covers of a book can such candid and unbiased view of manufacturer’s aims, designers’ problems, and consumers’ benefits be found—confidential observations of such impact they could never have been said had the author been committed professionally during the period when the book was written.

You’ll quote it, but if your friends pick up this book you will have to tie it down to keep it from disappearing.


 

12 Comments on “Automobile Design by Henry Gurr

  1.  by  Patrick Kelley

    I was pleasantly surprised by your article on Henry Gurr’s book Automobile Design. I thought I was one of the only people who considered this book a classic in automobile styling. This book still stuns me in the quality of design and thinking in 1955! I know that if there was a fire in the house that my Gurr books would be included in the few things to grab quickly—sorry models, bronzes, original art and posters—c’mon Henry let’s get outta here! Thanks for recognizing this tremendous book and regards,

    P. Kelley
    Aptos, CA

  2.  by  Steve Tremulis

    Bob Gurr and Alex Tremulis shared so many things in common, it was natural for the two Imagineers to form a lifelong friendship. Both had a love of cars, an extremely inventive mind, and one other little known fact: At some point both changed their names to their respective Italian namesakes. As I was told by Alex, in the early ‘60’s with Detroit putting out box cars with a contempt for aerodynamics, and the Italian Carrozzeria then putting out some of their absolute best, it was almost an embarrassment to be considered an American designer. So the natural thing to do was change your name to be Italian, a form of sincere flattery to the coachbuilders of their time. Tremulis changed his name to Tremulini and Gurr changed his to Gurrini, albeit with a tongue-in-cheek attitude. What started out as something of a joke lasted an entire lifetime between the two inventors (and probably others as well).

    Still in touch with one another in the twilight of Alex’s career (1988), Gurrini shared with Alex some outstanding photos of Disney’s Autopia. The letter is in reference to the Tucker movie just out. The second photo you’d have to consider to be the very origins of the International Race Of Champions (IROC), with E. Forbes-Robinson, Roy Jackson-Moore, Sterling Moss, Masten Gregory, and Ed Crawford all vying to be the champion at Autopia. You can see there was some definite paint swapping going on in their races. Inscribed: “To Bob, We enjoyed your little cars very much! Roy”. The last is a very young Tom McCahill putting the car through its paces. Tremulis also had a unique sense of humor, and in 1963 put the finishing touches on his GT40-based Tremulini GTO, hoping his thinly-disguised name would warrant a second look for the American designer.

    So one other thing that Gurrini and Tremulini both shared: The ability to make grown men feel like kids again…

  3.  by  Steve Tremulis

    ps: From the Tremulini files: A color shot of Gurrini’s spectacular FX…

  4.  by  Gary Smith

    I’ve heard from many viewers with favorable comments about Bob’s book. I asked Bob about the back cover copy and this was his response:

    Yes, I wrote the back cover copy at the urging of Dan Post. During the course of developing the first book How to Draw the Car of Tomorrow, which was later re-done in 1955 as Automobile Design, a number of car enthusiasts were involved. As such, lots of ideas for copy were discussed. So the final copy reflected our chats.

    The genesis of the original book was that Dan Post was a close friend of Strother MacMinn, then an instructor at Art Center School in Los Angeles. Dan wanted MacMinn to illustrate the book, but MacMinn was too busy teaching. Thus MacMinn asked me to do the book along with Dan.

    MacMinn had a few original pre-WWII drawings he had “liberated” from his stylist friends at General  Motors. This formed the basis for a start of the book. We needed a lot more drawings, so I did some, along with the “how to” sketches. Since some of my student buddies did pretty good work, I asked them to submit them to Dan to be published in the book. All the drawings for both books, other than the ones MacMinn furnished were done from 1951 thru 1955.

    Ron Hill was such a star at Art Center, I thought he should do the cover, as well as a few more drawings. One guy, Dick Tatge, did a fabulous color rendering of a turbine car. So overall, Automobile Design featured art work that spanned from around 1942 to 1955. Amazing that some of the designs are still admired after more than 60 years.


    Bob in 1955 sitting in a Formula 1 car.


    One of Bob’s renderings.


    Probably most of us have ridden in Bob’s designs at Disneyland.

  5.  by  allen ornes

    This was really good—his book was one of the major influences for me going to art center and following my dream to design cars. One of the great designers.

  6.  by  Steve Tremulis

    Ahhhh! Now all those stylized signatures make sense. I tried to look through all of them, and thought that Gurr just may have signed his name differently as he went along. Alex went through about a dozen or so versions of his signature, most legible, but some not. So now I can see that the FX was acually Tatge’s turbine car. My apologies to Dick Tatge (or is it pronounced Tatgini?).

  7.  by  econobiker

    Nice to know the background of a book which I have owned for 20 something years since buying it in the mid 1980s as a design student. And to know now that it is considered a classic is even better. I have deposited many books at the used book store but this one has always been a keeper.

  8.  by  Michael Broggie

    In 1955, when I was 12, Bob Gurr taught me to be the “kid test driver” of the Disneyland Autopia cars at Disney Studios. Years later, at a Disneyana collectors convention, I told about my experiences, such as getting busted for giving rides to Mouseketeers. Bob was also there and interjected that I wasn’t a test driver, he said I was his “test dummy.” Oh well. It’s said: “history is what we choose to remember.” Glad Disney Legend Gurr is getting the recognition he deserves.

  9.  by  Sheldon Payne

    This book was a huge influence on my early interest in automobile design, especially the drawings of Ron Hill. Although I never studied transportation design, I did manage to transfer to GM Design Staff from Fisher Body. I worked as a “tech stylist” in the Body Development Studio under Ray Koenig for a number of years, before moving to Advanced Vehicle Development, all the while inspired by Gurr’s book. Unfortunately, I loaned my copy to someone and never got it back. However I do still have two copies of the booklet published on industrial design in conjunction with the grand opening of the styling studios at GM’s Tech Center in 1956 (I think). These two publications had a huge influence on my choice of career.

  10.  by  Sheldon Payne

    That booklet is titled, “Styling, the Look of Things.”

  11.  by  Roy Lonberger

    Thanks Gary for an long overdue article. Hank’s book was instrumental to me starting Art Center in 1960. I regarded it the bible of car design and illustration. I still use it as a reference to my design students (especially to those who have never known a pencil).

    My favorite illustration was Ron Hill’s race car, what we used to call in school the “pebble Beach” racer…not because of the famous location on the west coast, but because he illustrated pebbles on the ground that were reflected into the car to suggest a reflective surface. I still marvel at this one.

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