Ford Inside News banner

1 - 20 of 24 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,679 Posts
Discussion Starter #1

FoMoCoNews: Ford Designers Series
George W.Walker


Dick Nesbitt suggested the name of George W. Walker for this next entry in the Ford Designer series. It turned out to be an excellent suggestion as Walker was one of the most influential designers in Ford history and the one that has under his belt the credits for making the car that signaled and achieved the resurrection of the Ford Motor COmpany after the assassination attempt by its founder Henry Ford (more on that if we ever do a Ford Management series). In a sense Walker got the torch of Ford design from the hands of E. T. (Bob) Gregorie who got it directly from its originator the great Edsel Ford himself.
Born in May 22, 1896, adulthood found George W. Walker as a semi-professional football player in Ohio, a activity that he maintained from the tender age of 15 until he was 25 years old.
Looking for a better future than just being a retired semi-pro, Walker graduated from not one but two design schools. His first design degree came from the Cleveland School of Art and the second from the Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design in Los Angeles.
George W. Walker start with the Ford Motor Company wasn't easy. In the early 1930s Walker was successful in selling Henry Ford a few chrome trim pieces. Later in 1935 he went to Henry again to show his vision of the future of car design, using a book in which he invested $3,000 of his own money. It turned out that the book fell apart when Walker was about to begin his presentation and Henry walked out on him. The next Ford Walker would hear from was Henry Ford II.
Walker was invited to comment on the in-house team (lead by the recently re-hired Bob Gregorie) design for the first post-war Ford, Walker responded with an entirely different design proposal, which scale clay model was baked in Mrs. Walker kitchen oven. Ford bought it, Gregorie left Ford for the second and last time and the in-house design became the legendary 1949 Mercury.
After this lucky break Walker was kept as a design consultant and with is team he designed iconic cars like the 1950 Lincoln, the 1951 Mercury, and the 1952 Ford.
There is the now legendary story of how a casual conversation with Henry Ford II in Paris on why couldn't America produce such gorgeous sports cars as they were admiring from Alpha Romeo, Jaguar and others, ended up in the 1955 Thunderbird.

After the Thunderbird success Walker was finally hired by Ford as vice president and director, styling office, Ford car & truck division. Walker retired 6 years latter in June 1st, 1961 and with him the flamboyance of the 1950s design left the Ford Motor Company never to return
Sources:
Brophy.com: GEORGE W. WALKER Henry Ford walked out on Walker's first presentation, but the ex-professional football player rose to be Ford's design chief.
LACEY, Robert. Ford. The Men and the Machine.
Wikipedia: George W. Walker


The 1949 Ford and the 1955 Thunderbird

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,710 Posts
Re: Ford Designer Series: George W. Walker

The fascination with the Jet age designs was just amazing. The problem with those designs is that they were not very practical, like the flying car thing, which I think is the Cadillacs of the day captured well with fins.

Meanwhile the Stealth look of the XLR backfired, I think
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,679 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Re: Ford Designer Series: George W. Walker

The fascination with the Jet age designs was just amazing. The problem with those designs is that they were not very practical, like the flying car thing, which I think is the Cadillacs of the day captured well with fins.

Meanwhile the Stealth look of the XLR backfired, I think
WHAT?? :confused:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,710 Posts
Re: Ford Designer Series: George W. Walker

You know tail fins were inspired by Jets, and you do know Cadillac Art & Science was an attempt to capture the Stealth F117 Theme?




Prior Cadillacs


Prior Cadillacs with the Aircraft Tail fin theme..
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,679 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Re: Ford Designer Series: George W. Walker

You know tail fins were inpired by Jets, and you do know Cadillac Art & Science was an attempt to capture the Stealth F117 Theme?

Prior Cadillacs with the Aircraft Tail fin theme..
I know and while the old Cadillacs were gorgeous beyond belief the XLR is an awkward design to say the least.

But, what does any of that has to do with George Walker??? Even though he commanded Ford design during the "tail fin" era, none of its iconic designs has any resemblance to a jet, except maybe for the "turbine" in the front end of the 1949 Ford, which I may be wrong but I think it is inspired by a bullet.
 

·
Design Mahārāja
Joined
·
51 Posts
Re: Ford Designer Series: George W. Walker


FoMoCoNews: Designers Series
George W.Walker


Dick Nesbitt suggested the name of George W. Walker for this next entry in the Ford Designer series. It turned out to be an excellent suggestion as it turned out that Walker was one of the most influential designers in Ford history and the one that has under his belt the credits for making the car that signaled and achieved the resurrection of the Ford Motor COmpany after the assassination attempt by its founder Henry Ford I (more on that if we ever do a Ford Management series). In a sense Walker got the torch of Ford design from the hands of E. T. (Bob) Gregorie who got it from Edsel Ford himself.
Born in May 22, 1896, Adulthood found George W. Walker as a semi-professional football player in Ohio, a activity that the maintained from the tender age of 15 until he was 25 years old.
Looking for a better future than just being a retired semi-pro, Walker graduated from not one but two design schools. His first design degree came from the Cleveland School of Art and the second from the Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design in Los Angeles.
George W. Walker start with the Ford Motor Company wasn't easy. In the early 1930s Walker was successful in selling Henry Ford a few chrome trim pieces. Later in 1935 he went to Henry again to show his vision of the future of car design, using a book in which he invested $3,000 of his own money. It turned out that the book fell apart when Walker was about to begin his presentation and Henry walked out on him. The next Ford Walker would hear from would be Henry Ford II.
Walker was invited to comment on the in-house team (lead by the recently re-hired Bob Gregorie) design for the first post-war Ford, Walker responded with an entirely different design proposal, which scale clay model was baked in Mrs. Walker kitchen oven. Ford bought it, Gregorie left Ford for the second and last time and the in-house design became the legendary 1949 Mercury.
After this lucky break Walker was kept as a design consultant and with is team he designed iconic cars like the 1950 Lincoln, the 1951 Mercury, and the 1952 Ford.
There is the now legendary story of how a casual conversation with Henry Ford II in Paris on why couldn't America produce such gorgeous sports cars as they were admiring from Alpha Romeo, Jaguar and others, ended up in the 1955 Thunderbird.

After the Thunderbird success Walker was finally hired by Ford as vice president and director, styling office, Ford car & truck division. Walker retired 6 years latter in June 1st, 1961 and with him the flamboyance of the 1950s design left the Ford Motor Company never to return
Sources:
Brophy.com: GEORGE W. WALKER Henry Ford walked out on Walker's first presentation, but the ex-professional football player rose to be Ford's design chief.
LACEY, Robert. Ford. The Men and the Machine.
Wikipedia: George W. Walker


The 1949 Ford and the 1955 Thunderbird

It's great to see this background on George Walker.
Ford achieved incredible success during the Walker years with an amazing variety of exciting,brilliant,original and very "aspirational" car designs that were often purchased every two or three years because people just wanted them--even if they didn't really have to replace what they already had.
Imagine a customer buying the "newest of the new" 1949 Ford--he is thrilled and very proud!
In just a few years,the all-new and very "modern" 1952 Ford is introduced,including the glamorous Victoria Hardtop,now in it's second year--and suddenly,the '49 is very "dated".
-- The '49 customer has got to have a new '52!!
A few years later--and the 1955 Ford is introduced................
It's got a "futuristic" wraparound windshield and a new,plush,high-level Fairlane series................
--The '52 is still nearly like new--but he has got to have a new '55..........
It just couldn't get any better than this --and then,the 1957 Ford is introduced........
It seems like it's too good to be true--with futuristic styling from the "Mystere" dream car!!
Two different sizes--Custom and Fairlane!!--The new Fairlane and Fairlane 500 are fantastic,and would make any Oldsmobile,Buick or Chrysler owner envious!!
Yes--the '55 is still like new--but he just can't live without a '57 Fairlane 500,even if it will take some overtime to do it.............

Ford had some serious quality problems during these years--but no one can deny the "gotta have it" appeal of the styling--almost year after year!
--There are several great cars available now--but how many are there we just couldn't live without???
Thanks,George --from '49 to'61,we will probably never see anything like it again..........
Dick Nesbitt
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,679 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Re: Ford Designer Series: George W. Walker

It's great to see this background on George Walker.
Ford achieved incredible success during the Walker years with an amazing variety of exciting,brilliant,original and very "aspirational" car designs that were often purchased every two or three years because people just wanted them--even if they didn't really have to replace what they already had.
Imagine a customer buying the "newest of the new" 1949 Ford--he is thrilled and very proud!
In just a few years,the all-new and very "modern" 1952 Ford is introduced,including the glamorous Victoria Hardtop,now in it's second year--and suddenly,the '49 is very "dated".
-- The '49 customer has got to have a new '52!!
A few years later--and the 1955 Ford is introduced................
It's got a "futuristic" wraparound windshield and a new,plush,high-level Fairlane series................
--The '52 is still nearly like new--but he has got to have a new '55..........
It just couldn't get any better than this --and then,the 1957 Ford is introduced........
It seems like it's too good to be true--with futuristic styling from the "Mystere" dream car!!
Two different sizes--Custom and Fairlane!!--The new Fairlane and Fairlane 500 are fantastic,and would make any Oldsmobile,Buick or Chrysler owner envious!!
Yes--the '55 is still like new--but he just can't live without a '57 Fairlane 500,even if it will take some overtime to do it.............

Ford had some serious quality problems during these years--but no one can deny the "gotta have it" appeal of the styling--almost year after year!
--There are several great cars available now--but how many are there we just couldn't live without???
Thanks,George --from '49 to'61,we will probably never see anything like it again..........
Dick Nesbitt
Hi Mr. Nesbitt,

Did you ever had the chance to meet him in person? If that was the case, how was he like? I know he was long retired when you joined Ford but you worked closely with Gene Bordinat, his successor so I was thinking that you may have met him socially or have had first hand account of what it was like working with him.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,710 Posts
Re: Ford Designer Series: George W. Walker

I know and while the old Cadillacs were gorgeous beyond belief the XLR is an awkward design to say the least.

But, what does any of that has to do with George Walker??? Even though he commanded Ford design during the "tail fin" era, none of its iconic designs has any resemblance to a jet, except maybe for the "turbine" in the front end of the 1949 Ford, which I may be wrong but I think it is inspired by a bullet.


Was this a real jet or a car? Did he design it?
 

·
Design Mahārāja
Joined
·
51 Posts
I never had the honor or pleasure of meeting George Walker in person.
--Mr. Walker was a legend at Ford Design when I was there in the 70's,and I was looking forward to meeting him,and getting some personal background from his point of view..........
The design of the Bordinat era was more "rational"--but I have always greatly admired the exuberance,excitment and risk of the Walker era..........
--Dick Nesbitt
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,679 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Re: Ford Designer Series: George W. Walker

Was this a real jet or a car? Did he design it?
That is probably a scale model of an extreme design by one designer in his team for promotional purposes (as the picture itself). Not representative at all of the cars that Walker is known for. These are a few of them:


1949 Ford


1955 Ford Thunderbird


1952 Ford


1951 Mercury


1950 Lincoln
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,028 Posts
Re: Ford Designer Series: George W. Walker

It's great to see this background on George Walker.
Ford achieved incredible success during the Walker years with an amazing variety of exciting,brilliant,original and very "aspirational" car designs that were often purchased every two or three years because people just wanted them--even if they didn't really have to replace what they already had.
Imagine a customer buying the "newest of the new" 1949 Ford--he is thrilled and very proud!
In just a few years,the all-new and very "modern" 1952 Ford is introduced,including the glamorous Victoria Hardtop,now in it's second year--and suddenly,the '49 is very "dated".
-- The '49 customer has got to have a new '52!!
A few years later--and the 1955 Ford is introduced................
It's got a "futuristic" wraparound windshield and a new,plush,high-level Fairlane series................
--The '52 is still nearly like new--but he has got to have a new '55..........
It just couldn't get any better than this --and then,the 1957 Ford is introduced........
It seems like it's too good to be true--with futuristic styling from the "Mystere" dream car!!
Two different sizes--Custom and Fairlane!!--The new Fairlane and Fairlane 500 are fantastic,and would make any Oldsmobile,Buick or Chrysler owner envious!!
Yes--the '55 is still like new--but he just can't live without a '57 Fairlane 500,even if it will take some overtime to do it.............

Ford had some serious quality problems during these years--but no one can deny the "gotta have it" appeal of the styling--almost year after year!
--There are several great cars available now--but how many are there we just couldn't live without???
Thanks,George --from '49 to'61,we will probably never see anything like it again..........
Dick Nesbitt
Wao! a new body every 2 or 3 years?????? Amazing!. I cant imagine an all new Accord, or Camry or Fusion every 2 years!
 

·
Mercury C557
Joined
·
22,734 Posts
Re: Ford Designer Series: George W. Walker

Wao! a new body every 2 or 3 years?????? Amazing!. I cant imagine an all new Accord, or Camry or Fusion every 2 years!

actually EVERY YEAR (starting with 1958)
www.musclecarclub.com: Fairlane (pictoral) History

Please forgive this tangent - I'm curious about Mr. Walker's involvement with, what for my money is, the surprise-winner of this era, the 1958 Fairlane!

compare ^this^ sleekness with the '57 & '59 at the MuscleCarClub page!

Perhaps Ford was just a bit busy with the new Edsels, but the Fairlane got a healthy dose of the new 4-seat Thunderbird in its front quarters - to me even more impressive since we're talking about a full-size family car with the Fairlane.

Wiki's Tbird page credits Joe Oros with the "Square Bird's" design but makes no specific mention regarding the '58 Fairlane - any confirmation? ...Mr. Nesbitt? ...Sobe?


also here're crossreferences for the above-mentioned Mystere concept-car SeriousWheels (1 large pic) & CarStyling.ru (2 small pix)
.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,679 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Re: Ford Designer Series: George W. Walker

I guess that probably Walker's involvement with the 58 Ford was more supervisory than hands on. At that moment he was King of Design at Ford and like you said very busy with the Edsel.

Incidentally, even though the whole market suffered a meltdown in 1958 and everyone did really bad that year I think that the 58 Ford and Fairlane has been gaining much deserved recognition lately.

 

·
Mercury C557
Joined
·
22,734 Posts
Re: Ford Designer Series: George W. Walker

...Incidentally, even though the whole market suffered a meltdown in 1958 and everyone did really bad that year I think that the 58 Ford and Fairlane has been gaining much deserved recognition lately.
Yup. When I was googling earlier, saw mention that the Tbird doubled its sales in '58 despite the recession - one of the few cars that achieved any increase.

ps, thanks for that great pic of the 2 cars side-by-side (gonna check out that site too!)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,679 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Re: Ford Designer Series: George W. Walker

I can only imagine the clashes between the ultra utilitarian Robert McNamara and Walker. I'll try to do some research on that.

It all ended for both in 1961 when one went home and the other to the Pentagon.
 

·
Mercury C557
Joined
·
22,734 Posts
Re: Ford Designer Series: George W. Walker

I can only imagine the clashes between the ultra utilitarian Robert McNamara and Walker. I'll try to do some research on that.

It all ended for both in 1961 when one went home and the other to the Pentagon.

YesPlease+TY!


Guess there's hidden drama in every organization - just a lot easier for me to get excited about cars than ...umm... toasters.
&
(on a barely related tangent)
watched "Thirteen Days" on tv recently - about Cuban missle crisis(McNamara reference) - and there was an absolutely cherry '63 Mercury with the breezeway rear window in the film. At first I thought they'd used the wrong model-year cuz it looked so good and practically contemporary.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
384 Posts
Re: Ford Designer Series: George W. Walker

YesPlease+TY!


Guess there's hidden drama in every organization - just a lot easier for me to get excited about cars than ...umm... toasters.
&
(on a barely related tangent)
watched "Thirteen Days" on tv recently - about Cuban missle crisis(McNamara reference) - and there was an absolutely cherry '63 Mercury with the breezeway rear window in the film. At first I thought they'd used the wrong model-year cuz it looked so good and practically contemporary.

On the hidden drama thing, I'd say that there was more than one reason that Time magazine referred to him at the Cellini of Chrome. It's interesting that they put his face on the cover with his most exuberant designs.

I, too saw "Thirteen Days", and him having access to a '63 Mercury in the fall of '62 would be plausible. I remember that, compared to "The Missiles Of October", "Thirteen Days" ran like an alternate history version of the story, in which you didn't know what the end would truly be. Actually, I saw that one in the theater.
 

·
Mercury C557
Joined
·
22,734 Posts
Re: Ford Designer Series: George W. Walker

...I, too saw "Thirteen Days", and him having access to a '63 Mercury in the fall of '62 would be plausible...

Yup - just the first time I saw it I primarily noticed the greenhouse and for some reason thought '65 - then googling showed it wasn't an anachronism afterall :)
 

·
Design Mahārāja
Joined
·
51 Posts
Re: Ford Designer Series: George W. Walker

actually EVERY YEAR (starting with 1958)
www.musclecarclub.com: Fairlane (pictoral) History

Please forgive this tangent - I'm curious about Mr. Walker's involvement with, what for my money is, the surprise-winner of this era, the 1958 Fairlane!

compare ^this^ sleekness with the '57 & '59 at the MuscleCarClub page!

Perhaps Ford was just a bit busy with the new Edsels, but the Fairlane got a healthy dose of the new 4-seat Thunderbird in its front quarters - to me even more impressive since we're talking about a full-size family car with the Fairlane.

Wiki's Tbird page credits Joe Oros with the "Square Bird's" design but makes no specific mention regarding the '58 Fairlane - any confirmation? ...Mr. Nesbitt? ...Sobe?


also here're crossreferences for the above-mentioned Mystere concept-car SeriousWheels (1 large pic) & CarStyling.ru (2 small pix)
.
Some background on Ford's styling organization during the early to mid 50's might be helpful.............
George Walker became a styling consultant to Ford after the success of the '49 Ford design he had created with considerable help.
He had a very successful industrial design office business with many important clients and prestige similar to Raymond Loewy.....
--Walker remained a consultant to Ford until he was appointed Vice President of Ford Styling in 1955.
While Walker was still a consultant with his staff --Ford also had it's own "inhouse" styling staff!!
Charles Waterhouse--of Waterhouse Coachbuilder fame in the 1930's,was head of the Ford overall design operation,and reported to VP of engineering,Earl MacPherson..............
Ford division styling was directed by Frank Quick Hershey.
Hershey was one of Harley Earls first "Art and Colour" styling employee's at GM where he later created Pontiacs famous "Silver Streaks"in 1935,and Cadillacs P-38 inspired tailfins in 1948.
--Gene Bordinat directed Lincoln-Mercury styling.
Walkers designers were Joe Oros assigned to the Ford studios and Elwood Engle assigned to the Lincoln-Mercury studios.
Gil Spear directed Ford's Advanced Styling studio,and reported to Charles Waterhouse.
As can be imagined--this arrangement created quite a bit of friction....
--This group of design managers and their staff were most responsible for the actual "hands on"effort in styling FoMoCo vehicles of this era.
-George Walker was a "master politician" ,which enabled him to get the outstanding results Ford Styling was capable of--even when dealing with Robert Strange McNamara.......
This effort was really as important and significant as the "hands on" styling effort.
The 1958 Thunderbird was a spectacular sales success,and earned a great profit for Ford--unlike the 1958 Lincoln and Continental MK III,which shared floor space with the Thunderbird at the then new Wixom assembly plant.
--The only two cars to increase sales in 1958 were Thunderbird and Rambler.
--The 4 passenger Thunderbird was Robert McNamara's decision and it did turn out to be financialy very successful--even though 2 passenger Thunderbird enthusiasts were naturally disappointed.............
--Dick Nesbitt
 
1 - 20 of 24 Posts
Top