Junior Styles Tomorrow’s Cars (Mar, 1947)

The models are nice, but I love the hat.

Junior Styles Tomorrow’s Cars

Watch out, you professional car designers—these up and coming ‘teen agers will have your jobs!

THE automobile of tomorrow should have a rear engine, better visibility and smooth and unbroken body lines—so think the youthful winners in the 1946 competition of the Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild.

The lads seem to be on the beam. Look at their models!

David W. Whitman chiseled and filed his car out of pine. Little Virgil M. Exner, only 13, turned out a job nearly the equal of a professional designer’s, the experts say. Virgil is the son of the chief designer for the Studebaker Corp., and seems to have inherited his father’s talents. In a well-equipped workshop, with side trips to a nearby dime store, he made a beautiful plaster of Paris rear-engine model with radiator intakes along the front edges of the rear fenders. Vincent J. Rauth, 19, a farmer boy, won with a two-tone job in light and midnight blue, with plexiglas windows—using chiefly a chisel, wood rasp and sandpaper. Robert J. Hartlieb, Jr., 16, offered a model of balsa wood, machining the wheels out of aluminum. Charles C. Bradley, 14, gave the front of his model a spinner like that on an airplane propeller, for letting air into a duct that carries it back to the rear engine.

The competition is held for boys in the age groups 12 to 15 and 16 to 19. They may submit models either of the automobile of tomorrow or the Napoleonic coach of yesterday. Eight university scholarships and nearly twelve hundred cash awards, to the value of over $75,000, are offered. There is no entrance fee. Each boy who enrolls is given a complete Plan Book with sketches and instructions. Applications may be addressed to the Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild, General Motors Building, Detroit 2, Mich. The 1947 competition closes June 15.

8 comments
  1. Neil Russell says: December 11, 20071:58 pm

    Exner Jr’s car has some suspicious Loewy-Studebaker influence to it and overall has a distinct Tucker look about it as well. Interesting that we were speculating here a little while back about the Studebaker-Tucker connection and this article seems to lend some credibility to the argument that at least in South Bend the designers knew Tucker was on to something with his rear engined streamlined car.

    Exner Sr sure took the design world by storm when he was chief stylist at Chrysler in the late 50s.

    The influences around Detroit were interesting to watch in that era. Harley Earl would be starting the fin war in just a year following this publication and it would culminate over a decade later at the hands of Exner and his team.

    Nash was adopting the covered wheel look for 49 with the Airflyte series which would have really benefitted from 4 wheel steering.

    Fisher did that competition of making the coach for a lot of years if I remember it right.

  2. Stannous says: December 11, 20077:39 pm

    Great story about the competition which lasted until 1968:
    http://www.carseek.com/…
    And their 2004 reunion (many stayed in the auto design field):
    http://www.theautochann…

  3. Firebrand38 says: December 12, 20071:17 pm

    Here is a 2003 interview with “little” Virgil Exner, Jr about his father:
    http://www.imperialclub…

  4. Tuckeroo says: December 12, 20078:32 pm

    The similarities between the Exner model (particularly the four-door, rear-engine, spinner-faced design) does bear an interesting resemblance to the Tucker ’48. But bear in mind that the date of this article (March 1947) precedes the world premiere of the “final incarnation” of Tucker styling by three months! This was a period of intense fascination with rear-engine designs, and many of these bear remarkable similarities. One of the most interesting is this 1938 design by Walter D. Teague, Jr: http://www.flickr.com/p…
    Note that it has four doors, three lights, and a rear engine. Then there was the Tatra: http://www.darkroastedb…
    The earliest design for the Tucker, called Torpedo, were done by George Lawson:http://www.kythepublish…
    Interestingly, Lawson had started work on this design, which featured three lights, center steering, and (probably) a rear engine back in the 1930s, quite some time before being approached by Tucker. The company that Lawson worked for, and the name that was scrolled on the front of this car which would evolve into the Tucker Torpedo?? …BUICK!! (read about it here): http://www.tuckerclub.o…

  5. Tuckeroo says: December 12, 20078:37 pm

    …Also (and more on the topic), there is an excellent book on the subject of the Fisher Body Craftsman Guild: http://fisherguild.com/

  6. Cecilia A. Rauth says: January 16, 20086:55 pm

    I did a web search for “Vincent J Rauth” (my Dad) and was delighted to discover this March 1947 article which includes information on and a photo of the model car he designed and built. He won a $4,000 Fisher Body Craftsmans’ Guild scholarship which he used to attend the University of Notre Dame, and graduated with a degree in architecture. My Dad passed away Christmas Eve 2006 at the age of 79. He led a full life, which included a long career as an architect in the Detroit area, 51 years of marriage, 9 children and 22 grandchildren to date. We still have his model car, on display at a cottage he designed and built after retiring at the age of 73 — his last architectural project. We miss him, but we know he is in a much better place.

  7. Charlie says: January 16, 20087:53 pm

    Cecilia: I’m sorry about your dad, and thanks a lot for posting here. It’s really nice when the people related to the articles post about them. That’s really great that you still have the car!

  8. Cecilia A. Rauth says: January 23, 20086:05 pm

    Charlie: Thanks so much for your condolences. I was so surprised to find a photo of my Dad’s model car on the web, and more than happy to post information about my Dad and his car on this site. I don’t believe I ever saw the original “Mechanix Illustrated” article. Last summer, I had my Dad’s Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild certificate (the gold-sealed and blue-ribboned written proof of his $4,000 scholarship award) pressed (unwrinkled) and re-framed with the latest acid free materials so that it can be preserved for years to come and displayed at his cottage above his model car. It looks great! Good as new. My Dad was one of 9 children, 7 boys and 2 girls, raised on a farm in York, Nebraska. I believe that one of his brothers also submitted a model car to the Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild competition and won a scholarship, but I can’t be sure without checking. A number of his siblings were/are also gifted with artistic/creative talent. Thanks again.

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