DESIGNERS GIVE CARS REAL BEAUTY
James G. Heaslet
Tulsa Daily World
April 18, 1915 Morning Edition
Man Who Plans Studebaker Cars Talks of His Work.
By James G. Heaslet (Designer of Studebaker Automobiles and vice-president in charge of engineering and production of the Studebaker Corporation, Detroit.)
When one thinks of the work done by the designer of an automobile, the imagination usually presents the picture of a man at work upon the drawing of a new motor or over mathematical tables giving the stresses of a new steel. Too seldom is consideration given to the hard work spent upon what all can see—the beauty of line and of balanced masses that delight to eye.
Accustomed to the wonderful models of the last few seasons, the automobiles that were on the market when I first became interested in designing cars 16 years ago seem to us now nothing more than toys. In that time the diminutive, clumsy, snorting "one-lunger" has developed into the complex six-cylinder machine that hums along the highway at 30 to 60 miles an hour, carrying seven passengers in perfect comfort.
Being a young nation, America is interested in utility more than it is in beauty, but it is remarkable how well beauty of design has kept step with the important advances made in other directions in the automobile field. When the history of the early decades of the industry is written, I believe that due credit will be given designers for having paid as much attention to beauty of body as to vital problems of power, weight and balance. As in other realms of the new science of automobile building there had to be much experimenting, but the advance has been steady. A row of pictures each showing a model of each succeeding year would be an instructive lesson. At one end would be the little toy roadster, and next it would be what our greater artistic development now regards as a curiosity—the little touring car with no foredoors, and with the entrance to the tonneau from the rear.
It is a far cry from these to the touring car of 1915. Let us take the Studebaker six as typical of cars of this season. The car is a natural evolution. It was only a few years ago that no touring car was made with foredoors. An automobile was an enigma to the man who owned one and he hired a chauffeur to run it. But finally by the education of the owner and simplification of the car the chauffeur was dispensed with in the majority of cases. When the owner and his family began to drive the demand was for the front seat to be as comfortable as the tonneau, and the foredoors came as the logical answer to this demand.
One of the greatest factors in beauty is simplicity. It took us some time to evolve a body that had beautiful simplicity of line. In the present streamline body of the Studebaker it looks as if we have gone as far as possible in this direction. There is no hardware visible; nothing seems extraneous, the flowing lines are unbroken from radiator to tail-lamp. The windshield is an integral part of the car. The crown fenders are lines of beautiy that repeat the curves of the wheels. Since beauty comes from the length of line, putting the gasoline tank in the cowl of the car has increased the length of the machine just that much, and incidentally accentuated its beauty.
This idea of beauty through simplicity is carried into the operating parts of the Studebaker. Only beauty of machinery comes from efficiency. Therefore in gaining simplicity and beauty the Studebaker has gained in operating efficiency. For instance, accessibility makes for simplicity. The Studebaker is one of the pioneers in doing away with the magneto, resulting in simplicity. The number of timing gears has been reduced to a minimum, another victory for simplicity. And every time something is eliminated that good engineering practice has found unnecessary the car gains in efficiency and the car owner in satisfaction.
We manufacture a high-class car to sell at a moderate price. We make cars for a great many buyers a year, and, therefore, must reduce our product to its simplest terms. We meet the demand of the great mass of people. Those who want the high quality that guarantees long life and economic operation at a moderate initial price find it in the Studebaker four. The Studebaker six is for those who want greater power and flexibility. Simplification is always the aim of the designer, and in attaining it the beauty of body of the Studebaker car has also been attained.
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