George Barbaz

by Dick Nesbitt

barbaz-mk-iv

I worked with George Barbaz in the Lincoln-Mercury Advanced Design Studio during 1973. George was the “Senior” member of our studio, having started as a designer with Ford in 1945 after serving in the army infantry during World War II. He was of Hungarian descent, and had a great sense of humor, and very definite opinions on just about everything.

His career at Ford included participation in the design of a proposed 1949 Lincoln Continental and the 1949 Presidential Lincoln. Later, George contributed to the XL-500 “Dream Car” design and managed pre-production styling development of the controversial1958 Edsel.

An unusual and interesting assignment was the “lavish” exterior trim ornamentation George helped design for several Canadian Meteors and Monarchs.
One of his assignments I was especially interested in was his participation in the “Quicksilver” advanced design project. The Quicksilver became the radical, all-new 1960 full-size Ford, designed as a response to the really far-out 1959 Chevrolet.

It turned out the 1959 Chevrolet was not well received, and the angular, very conservative 1959 Ford outsold Chevrolet for only the second time since 1935. George said that when Ford’s “G-2” spyguys got advance drawings of the 1959 Chevrolet, they first thought they had been found out and had deliberately been given this information as “misinformation!” Other talents George enjoyed sharing were caricature and cartoon drawing he excelled at. George was a pleasure to work with and he retired in 1981.

14 Comments on “George Barbaz

  1.  by  Mark Wayne Gregory

    Thank you Gary, for another very interesting and informative article regarding automotive design history. Mr. Barbaz is a designer I had not heard of before and I always enjoy learning of new ones and studying their excellent work. Mr. Barbaz is yet another great talent of the industry.

  2.  by  allen ornes

    George worked with me and had many great stories of times with DeLarosa and Bordinat in the early days. A good designer and man for sure.
    Thanks for sharing the pictures. Wish I had thought to ‘save’ some from the studios. Never took anything with me.

  3.  by  Christopher Dowdey

    Mr. George Barbaz was a delightful, talented and caring professional…and a really good designer. I had the great fortune to work in Special projects with him and Frank Bianchi and several other really wonderful people. There was a wonderful connection of energy between the clay modelers, design leaders..and everything just meshed well. Guys like George,,,who were older at the time really helped (me @ 22) younger designers…and were very direct and up-front with comments and guidance. I worked as part of the 72 Gran Torino Team..and George helped me on the front with great comments and Frank Bianchi helped me with the full size tape drawing…Brings back great memories. YES George was a really talented designer..but an even nicer person and great professional!
    That was an exciting studio…There were so many talented people it was a big WOW!

  4.  by  John Lewinski

    It would be great if there was one site or page on here with all renderings and concept cars and the history/stories behind them. Also a Facebook page would be great like Collectible Automobiles page.

  5.  by  Gary Smith

    Yes, well, it would be great if I were retired and this is all I had to do or if Dean’s Garage produced an income. Oh, well.

  6.  by  Christopher C. Dowdey

    Gary Smith! I think your work is over the top great and I really enjoy the connection with the Designers , modelers,prototype fabricators studio engineers and the car culture!

    Your efforts are amazing!..and I want you to know how much I appreciate your work to connect people…it’s really wonderful! Congrats
    I used to drool over your Pontiac work with all those wonderful reflections and wow! I now I know who you are..we will have to have a coffee some day!

    I was a designer at Ford from 68 through 75.(laid off in oil crisis)..went out west to work…. came back to Michigan in 1982 and started with ASC design and worked there for 30 years. Laid off in 2009 and continue to do contract design work on my own..and fine art!
    My cell is 734-558-6155 if you ever want to chat ..best wishes and many blessing!

  7.  by  Sandra

    Thanks for the wonderful article on my dad, George Barbaz. He’s 87yrs old now and has many fond memories of his car designing days at Ford!

  8.  by  Phil Pauley

    Anybody have information about the great Ford 4-door concept car that was displayed at the Great Mall in Milpitas, California in the ’80s?

  9.  by  Howard Payne

    I can only echo all of the positive comments made about George Barbaz, a great designer. I worked with George is several studios the most memorable was in Dave Ask’s Advanced design studio where we worked for Ken ( not known to smile very often) Spencer. As the modelers di-noked a clay, with water everywher on the maple floor, I bet George he could twirl a full bucket of water over his head and not spill a drop. I felt sure that George would slip and spill some water. He did slip on the wet floor, dropped the bucket, lost the bet, and for the first time ever several of us saw Ken Spencer break out laughing. George laughed too.

  10.  by  Jerry Malinowski

    I remember George Barbaz as a class act which was reflected in his work. He made many contributions to automotive design at Ford. I worked with George in the Advanced Design Studio.

  11.  by  Jerry Malinowski

    In 1963 I was working in Lincoln production Studio. Following the assassination of John F. Kennedy my assignment would drastically change to the redesign of the X100 Lincoln Presidential Limousine. The studio head was Buzz Grissinger. I think Howard Payne who was in Mercury Studio was also involved on the project. Recently saw Howard’s comment on George Barbaz. I would like to contact Howard.

    Jerry Malinowski.

  12.  by  Howard E. Payne

    Jerry Malinowski, I remember you well, and would enjoy communicating with you! HP

  13.  by  Phillip E. Payne

    Like several other Ford designers, I had the luxury of working with George Barbaz in some of the studios. He was a good designer and doggone hilarious. I doubt he realized how funny he could be. George had a way of cutting through all the hyperbole and breaking it down to just the important terms.

    Over lunch one day, he told a story about his time during WWII as an infantryman. During the Italian campaign and he and another GI were taking some incoming artillery. They found a muddy crater in a dirt road and jumped in hoping to avoid the shells. Just then, a German Panzer tank came out of nowhere and stopped right over them. Scared, and holding their breaths, they stayed put. They could hear the Germans, inside the tank, talking.

    The muzzle of the tank was right above them. Then it fired off a round!

    George said the tank finally left and they crawled out of the crater with ringing ears and and helmets blown off. He said they staggered down the road like a couple of drunks only to be “captured” by their own troops as they couldn’t be identified, due to the dirt and mud covering them and were both now deaf.

    Two days later they were back at the front. By the time he finished relating his story we were all laughing with tears running down our cheeks it was so funny.

    George was a good friend at Ford and I sure enjoyed working with him!

  14.  by  Mollie

    I just found 3 original sketches of George’s in a crawlspace in my home with thumbtack holes in the corners. My late husband, Gary Parks, worked at Ford in 1968 and I remember him speaking fondly of a George during his time there. They’re dated 1968 and 1970. they’ve been rolled for over 40 years so it’s going to take some doing to get them flat but they’re in near perfect condition. I’m so happy I found this forum so I could read your stories about George.

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