Object Timeline

1936

  • Work on this object began.

2017

  • We acquired this object.

2018

2022

  • You found it!

Print, Ballyhoo Coach

This is a Print. It was from the office of General Motors. It is dated 1936 and we acquired it in 2017. Its medium is photostat on paper. It is a part of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department.

This design is a simple line rendering of the large, streamlined Ballyhoo Coach, designed for General Motors (GM). An inscription at the bottom right corner states “General Motors Art & Colour/CV Wirebaugh 12/4/36.” The General Motors Art & Colour division was established by the company’s president for Harley Earl after the success of his design of the 1927 Cadillac LaSalle. The inauguration of the Art & Colour section was groundbreaking because it signified a paradigm shift in the automobile industry. Prior to the section’s inception, car manufacturers, including GM, did not concentrate on the aesthetics of car bodies. In February 1936, GM debuted its ‘Parade of Progress,’ a traveling road show that publicized the company’s vision and innovation. The focal point of the exhibition was a group of eight red and white streamlined vans arranged to form walk-through exhibitions and reveal large awnings. These vans were revamped in 1940 and it is likely that this work from December 1936 was part of the redesign process. The lack of color in the photostat is notable because the striking hues of the coaches were essential to the vans’ prominence at the parade. The stark, precise forms imply that this work was not a formal presentation piece, but rather evidence of the designers’ inventive practices.

This object was donated by Paul Herzan and Alexandra Herzan. It is credited Gift of Alexandra and Paul Herzan.

Its dimensions are

37.5 × 94.3 cm (14 3/4 × 37 1/8 in.)

It is inscribed

Inscribed, upper left corner: #1; lower right: GENERAL MOTORS ART & COLOUR / CV WIREBAUGH 12/4/36

Cite this object as

Print, Ballyhoo Coach; Office of General Motors ; photostat on paper; 37.5 × 94.3 cm (14 3/4 × 37 1/8 in.); Gift of Alexandra and Paul Herzan; 2017-27-4

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://www-6.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/1108806889/ |title=Print, Ballyhoo Coach |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=28 June 2022 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>