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Car buff designed 1949 Ford

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  • Car buff designed 1949 Ford

    From the Detroit News:
    Former Studebaker and Loewy designer Dick Caleal designed the 1949 Ford on his kitchen table in Mishawauka, Ind. But what the story does NOT say is that Caleal had a lot of help from Studebaker designer Robert "Bob" Bourke!!


    Lew Schucart
    Editor, Avanti Magazine
    Lew Schucart
    Editor, Avanti Magazine

  • #2
    I copied and pasted the obituary because I was afraid the url would go away after a day or two and we would lose it.

    Richard D. Caleal, Farmington Hills

    Car buff designed 1949 Ford

    Mark Hicks / The Detroit News

    At age 7, after admiring an elegant Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost that rolled past his Lansing home, Richard David Caleal grabbed a pencil and designed his first car.

    In his 30s, he designed the prototype quarter-scale for the 1949 Ford, touted as "the car that saved an empire."

    In later years, the designer kept a notepad on his nightstand so he could sketch the futuristic cars that roared through his dreams.

    "He lived, breathed, loved automobiles more than anything," said his daughter, Mary Geo Stephenson. "He was the ultimate car guy."

    Mr. Caleal, a noted automobile designer credited with providing the concept for the 1949 Ford, died Saturday, Sept. 16, 2006, at Heartland West Bloomfield Nursing Home. He was 94.

    Born Sept. 2, 1912, in Lansing, he graduated from Eastern High School before working at a wallpaper store where he displayed his drawings in showcase windows.

    A passer-by referred him to REO Motor Car Co., where he began designing and styling.

    Mr. Caleal spent stints at General Motors Corp., Hudson and Packard before being hired at Studebaker, where he joined a design team led by renowned industrial designer Raymond Loewy.

    In 1946 he became a freelance designer at Ford Motor Co. for George Walker, whom Henry Ford II had awarded a contract to design the 1949 Ford.

    Given just three weeks to devise a concept, Mr. Caleal returned to his bungalow in Mishawaka, Ind., where he tinkered on plans at his kitchen table.

    He produced a prototype quarter-scale model that deviated from Ford's earlier models with its slightly shorter, sleeker, slab-sided style.

    Soon after seeing the plaster model, Stephenson said, Henry Ford II pointed and declared, "That's my model."

    After some alterations -- a spinner grille and horizontal taillight -- the car went into production. The 1949 car reversed Ford's financial fortune, generating more than 1 million in sales and some $177 million in profit.

    Though other stylists claimed the design, and Mr. Caleal was omitted from several works mentioning the car, Ford and the American Arab Chamber of Commerce honored the designer for his efforts during the "Building Economic Bridges" banquet in December 2003.

    His work is honored in exhibits at the Henry Ford Museum and the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn.

    Besides his daughter, survivors include his wife, Margaret; two sons, Richard Jr. and Daniel; and four grandchildren.

    Services will be 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Saint Fabian Catholic Church, 32200 W. 12 Mile, Farmington Hills.

    Dwain G.