If you absolutely love the Classic Era of automobiles, The General Society of Mechanics & Tradesmen of the City of New York will be hosting an upcoming lecture on October 3, 2023, by Matthew Kilkenny, the author of the book Detroit Steel Artists: How Edsel Ford, Ray Dietrich, Tom Hibbard, and Ralph Roberts Turned Motor City into a Styling Mecca Before Harley Earl. You will be able to watch the lecture on Zoom or, if you live in Manhattan, you can attend in person.
As part of the Society’s Labor, Literature, and Landmark Series, Kilkenny’s lecture starts with a question: Styling is a given today for selling cars. How did that come to be? In the Tuesday lecture, Kilkenny will answer this by telling the story of the early car designers who created America’s most stunning vehicles from 1920-40 before General Motors created its Art and Color Section with Harley Earl. Though his meticulous research and images of the most majestic American cars of the era, Kilkenny tells the story of these cutting-edge designers — those who made styling a selling point. In fact, societal changes, including the modernization of business and women’s suffrage, also were powerful factors in the rise of styling’s significance.
And, interestingly, many of the above designers got their start in New York including Dietrich, who just so happened to be a General Society Mechanics Institute graduate of the 1918 Carriage Drafting program.
Detroit Steel Artists has won the prestigious “IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award Winners 2023Best Coffee Table Book Award”, and the “IPP Award for Best Transportation Book for 2023”.In addition, Detroit Steel Artists has just won the highly regarded “2023 Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot Award” from the Society of Automotive Historians.
To sign up for the 6 p.m. (EST) Zoom lecture, visit this Eventbrite page and submit $10 for the honor. You can also attend the lecture in Manhattan at The General Society Library on 20 West 44th Street. In addition, a recording of the seminar will follow a week later.