Bob Aikins built this model for the Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild competition in 1960 and showed it in Dayton in 2018. Photo by Mel Francis

Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild Reunion part of Sept. 15 concours

While people wander among the motorized artistry of the cars at the 2019 Dayton Concours d’Elegance at Carillon Park Sept. 15, there will be a second concours taking place on tables inside the Dicke Transportation Center.

Organized by Bellbrook resident Randy Derr, there also will be a display of 1/43rd- to 1/8t-scale model cars spanning a wide range of interests. It will again include originally designed models built by teenagers generations ago who competed for college scholarships in the General Motors Corp.-sponsored Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild contest.

The guild was a philanthropic initiative by the Fisher brothers of the GM Fisher Body Division during the Great Depression. Initially it offered scholarships for craftsmanship in finishing a model kit of the trademark Fisher Body coach, and then evolved into an original design competition of 1/12th scale model cars.

The contest ran from 1930 to 1968. It was a great source of design ideas and talent for GM, and many of the guild winners went into the automobile industry as designers.

Guild alumni have displayed their models in reunions at Detroit’s 2004 “Eye on Design” show, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in 2008, Scottsdale’s famous Barrett-Jackson auto auction in 2013, and the Pasadena Art Center College of Design in 2016 where many auto designers were trained. About 100 guild models are currently on extended display at the Gilmore Car Museum in Michigan.

Guild historian and author John Jacobus who brought alumni together with his two books on the guild, will be at the concours display, where former winners will share their winning models and experiences.

Many guild alumni went to work for Ford, GM, Chrysler and Studebaker, as well as foreign auto manufacturers such 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.

Through reunions, guild winners have become reacquainted years after attending national conventions in Detroit where they sat with such dignitaries as Charles “Boss” Kettering, awaiting Walter Cronkite to announce the National Scholarship winners’ names on national radio. This aging “fraternity” is now promoting initiatives to find museum homes for their model treasures to preserve the guild heritage.

Beavercreek guild host George Herzog commissioned Troy concours artist Dan Brown to do an impressionistic oil painting that tells a story of imagining his models staged full-scale on the concours grounds.

It shows the convertible feature of Herzog’s station wagon if it were full-scale and includes people important in this personal legacy story: infant Herzog being held by his grandfather who provided the balsa wood for his first model, his parents, a teenage Herzog holding a guild trophy, and present-day Herzog and his wife Lela with Gale Halderman, concours grand marshall and Ford design director who designed the 1965 Mustang under Lee Iacocca.

SEPT. 15

13TH ANNUAL DAYTON CONCOURS D’ELEGANCE AT CARILLON PARK, FEATURING THE GRAND CLASSICS – elegant machines with names like Packard, Rolls-Royce, Pierce-Arrow, Duesenberg, Bentley and Cadillac. Also will honor 50th anniversary of the Pontiac Trans Am. Casual Preview Party on evening of Sept. 14 at Carillon Historical Park.

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