Some of the most intriguing vehicles at the 12th annual Dayton Concours d’Elegance at Carillon Park Sept. 16 will be parked on a tabletop.
An increasingly popular exhibit will be the third appearance of the Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild, modelers displaying their hand-built models that embrace automotive-vehicle design creativity. The public is invited to view the Guild model displays at the Dicke Transportation Building from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Guild was a philanthropic initiative by the Fisher family of the General Motors Corp. Fisher Body Division during the Great Depression. Initially it offered scholarships to teenagers for craftsmanship in finishing a model kit of the trademark Fisher Body coach, and then evolved into original design competition of 1/12th scale model cars.
The contest ran from 1930 to 1968. It was also a great source of design ideas and talent for GM, and many of the scholarship winners went into the automobile industry as designers.
Participation in the Concours involves former Guild winners from around the country sharing their winning models and experiences with the public.
“The Guild has become a great part of the Concours,” said Concours Chairman Skip Peterson.
It started with a meeting between Concours committee member Randy Derr and John Jacobus, Maryland author of two Guild books, at the Great Salt Lake International Vehicular Model Competition in 2015.
Jacobus plans to attend this year as do Bud Magaldi, Bob Aikins and George Chartier, who worked at Ford Motor Co. for this year’s Concours Grand Marshall Gale Halderman, a former Ford design director and creator of the 1965 Mustang.
Guild alumni have displayed their models at reunions in Detroit in 2004; at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts as works of art in 2008; in conjunction with Scottsdale’s famous Barrett-Jackson auto auction in 2013; and in 2016 at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.
Many of the Guild alumni were trained at ACCD and went to work for Ford, GM and Chrysler, as well as such foreign auto manufacturers as Volvo, Subaru and Nissan. Others went into design-related fields such as architecture, toys and NASA equipment, while some used their eye-hand skills to become dentists and retinal surgeons.
George Herzog, local host for this year’s Guild participation, had a career in program management at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base after fulfilling his AFROTC officer commission commitment.
Over the years Guild reunion participants have become a fraternity actively promoting the Guild legacy. Tony Simone of New Hampshire has spearheaded a campaign to find museum homes across the U.S. for these model treasures as aging Guild alumni seek to preserve their heritage. Paul Tatseos of Michigan, who designed interiors and worked for famed GM Vice President of Design Chuck Jordan – whose projects included the Chevrolet Corvette – is arranging displays at the Gilmore Car Museum in Michigan next year.
Tatseos and Herzog attended the 1958 Detroit Guild National Convention as regional winners and sat at the convention banquet head table with such dignitaries as Charles “Boss” Kettering while Walter Cronkite announced the names of national scholarship winners on national radio.
NOTE: Housed in the Heritage Center of Manufacturing and Entrepreneurship at Carillon Historical Park is the original Deeds Barn – the storied building where Charles Kettering and the Barn Gang built the automobile self-starter, changing transportation as the world knows it. All exhibits will be open during the Concours d’Elegance.
– Wheels’ Amy Rollins contributed to this story.