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Drawing, Concept Car

This is a Drawing. It was designed by David McIntosh and from the office of General Motors. It is dated 1973–80 and we acquired it in 2017. Its medium is airbrush and ink on paper. It is a part of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department.

Before the popular fins and heavy chrome of midcentury American automotive styling became ubiquitous across the industry, earlier twentieth-century automobile designs instead drew attention to advances in engineering. As young designers increasingly graduated with degrees in industrial design in the 1950s, automotive design studios were filled with artists eager to experiment with adding sculptural forms to familiar machinery. This 1973–80 design for a Pontiac Firebird by General Motors designer David McIntosh demonstrates a hybrid interest in both form and technology. The vehicle’s long body recalls sculptural muscle cars prevalent in the 1960s, while sleek curves demonstrate a 1970s interest in pure, aerodynamic forms. The Firebird’s smooth contours suggest a fast groundspeed, and the large rounded windshields and highly reflective surface subtly recall earlier GM designs whose bubble windshields and fire jets borrowed more conspicuously from aircraft. Though this chrome vehicle looks almost entirely futuristic, McIntosh interestingly chose a more traditional form for the automobile’s hood. This sculptural silhouette references designs popular in the 1930s and perhaps served to tie the new Pontiac Firebird to General Motors’ brand history and tradition of excellence.

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

Its dimensions are

Frame H x W x D (approx.): 64.1 × 79.4 × 3.2 cm (25 1/4 × 31 1/4 × 1 1/4 in.)

It is signed

Signed in pen and ink, lower right: McIntosh

Cite this object as

Drawing, Concept Car; Designed by David McIntosh (American, active 1964 - 2003); Office of General Motors; airbrush and ink on paper; Frame H x W x D (approx.): 64.1 × 79.4 × 3.2 cm (25 1/4 × 31 1/4 × 1 1/4 in.); Gift of Alexandra and Paul Herzan; 2017-39-15

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian’s Terms of Use page.

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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/1108951117/ |title=Drawing, Concept Car |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=7 June 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>