Ted McCarty, the man who guided Gibson Guitars through its “Golden Era” and increased their sales from 5,000 units a year to over 100,000, studied engineering at the University of Cincinnati and worked for the Wurlitzer Piano and Organ Company before joining Gibson Guitars.
|Flying Vee, Explorer, Moderne patents dated January 7, 1958|
|Ray Dietrich - Auto Designer|
|Ray Dietrich 1975|
Dietrich has a very interesting story you can read here. Suffice to say he designed the bodies of Packard, Studebaker, Ford and Lincoln automobiles. He was even responsible for the design of Checker Cabs, which were based in Kalamazoo, Michigan. This is the town where Dietrich lived after his retirement.
|1963 Gibson Reverse Firebird V|
Dietrich took the tail fin design that was popular with mid-1950’s cars and modified the design of the 1958 Gibson Explorer to create the body shape.
Because the lower horn extended father out than the upper one, this was a very unorthodox look for that era, when compared to Fender’s Jazzmaster guitar. Therefore it has come to be known as the “reverse” Firebird.
|From 1965 Gibson Catalog|
The other unique feature was the Gibson Firebird was the first solidbody guitar produced with neck-through body construction. Perhaps Dietrich took a hint from Les Paul’s “Log”.
|Mini humbuckers with chrome covers|
|Reverse Firebird headstock|
The pickups on this instrument were also unusual for 1963. These were Gibson mini-humbucking pickups that were enclosed in a solid chromed case.
The Firebird came with different pickup configurations and styles which were noted by Roman numerals.
|1964 Firebird I|
|1964 Firebird III|
Model III was indicative of a twin pickup guitar, with or without a Maestro tremolo, a bound neck with dot markers.
|1964 Firebird V|
|1964 Firebird VII|
The top-of-the-line Firebird VII was similar in accouterments as the V model, but it had three chrome-covered mini-humbucking pickups. I might note that Ray Dietrich was 66 years old when he designed the Reverse Firebird. Perhaps one of the first notable users of this guitar was a 22 year-old Brian Jones on the Rolling Stones first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show on October 25th of 1964.
Another automotive designer, did not work for a major automotive company. Rather he became very famous for customizing cars; at first for himself and other and later in his career for vehicles used by celebrities and in movies and on TV shows.
George Barris and his brother was sent from Greece to live in Chicago with relatives. At age 7 he was building model cars out of balsa wood.
|George and Sam Barris|
George and his brother Sam worked in the family’s Greek restaurant. At a young age the brothers were given a 1925 Buick in lieu of a paycheck. They restored it and this turned into their life’s work.
|The Barris Kustom Shop|
They sold that car and even before the boys had graduated from high school they started Barris Brothers Kustom Shop in Los Angeles.
Their work came to the attention of the motion picture industry and they were asked to create customized cars for studio executives, movie stars and vehicles to be used as movie props. This lead to a meeting with the owner/founder of Hot Rod and Motor Trend magazines.
In 1950 Sam left the business and George Barris ran the company with the help of his wife. Model car building was popular in those days and Barris’ designs were licensed by the major model kit companies. By the 1960’s Barris, along with other automobile customizers did their magic on production cars for Ford and Lincoln/Mercury’s traveling exhibits, designed to attract young buyers. This caught the eye of author Tom Wolfe and inspired his first best selling book; The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby.
|George Barris movie cars|
|The TV Batmobile|
He leased the car to that show and sold it in 2013 for over four million dollars.
|KiTT from Knightrider TV Show|
|Family Vacation Wagon|
Barris was also responsible for the "Wagon Queen Family Truckster", based on a 1979 Ford Country Squire station wagon, for the 1983 movie "National Lampoon's Vacation".
|The Vox Mobile|
|Back to the Future - Barris modded Delorean|
It was Barris who designed this for the Jennings Company. Barris also rebuilt the Back to the Future DeLorean for the movie of the same name.
|Hallmark Barris Guitars.|
Bob Shade of Hallmark Guitars called upon Barris’ design firm to create limited runs of several Hallmark instruments.
|Barris Krest Guitar|
This Fender model was a 1999 limited run of 25 Fender Custom Shop designers made exclusively for the automotive company. Twenty of these guitars were given to fortunate Jaguar dealers as an incentive to customers purchasing the luxury car and it was a beautiful guitar.
|Fender XK-50 Strat|
And though, Burgess, the Jaguar designer never built a guitar, the XK-50 Jaguar Stratocaster is a thing of beauty. The finish is custom colour Jaguar green. The pickguard is made of burled walnut, as is the headstock. The pickups are enclosed in gold-plated covers.
In fact all of the hardware, the knobs, the switch cap, the bridge/saddle unit, the tremolo bar, the input and the tuning machines are all gold-plated. It even came with a gold-plated bridge cover. Inlaid in the headstock is the face of a jaguar, and image of the Jaguar hood ornament and the Fender logo in gold trim.
Recently, Ford’s global designers were given the task of putting the 2017 Ford GT design into everyday objects. Design teams created a racing sailboat, a foosball table and a guitar.
|Ford GT Guitar|
The guitar design team was lead by senior designer Tyler Blake. The guitar they came up with utilized a conventional fretboard, but everything else was meant to reflect the GT modern design.
|Ford GT Guitar|
|Ford GT Guitar|
The guitar’s tuning machines are mounted to the bottom of the headstock, reducing visual clutter and creating a clean, precise order to the strings.
|Ford GT Guitar|