Harley J. Earl
copy of www.carofthecentury.com
The most revolutionary design to ever come out of the twentieth century automobile glass industry was the panoramic wrap around windshield by Harley J. Earl (notice his U.S. design patent below). This new technology only began after General Motors and Libby Owens Ford secretly worked together on Earl's experimental concept. GM then informed the media in a 1952 press release that, “our future car models will be equipped with wrap around windshields.”
Completely caught off guard, execs of GM's major competitors were stunned. At the time, Ford and Chrysler knew very little of this new technology and/or didn't thoroughly understand the ramifications of Earl's "design obsolescence" paradigm pertaining to the world of tomorrow. This auto-innovator's brainchild of creating 10s of millions of GM's cars with this ultra-futuristic windshield design --- that would eventually be incorporated on millions of their competitor's car --- was incredibly visionary. During the mid-century years, GM's management was 100 percent behind letting Harley Earl run with his radical new ideas.
Here's a quote from a January 23, 1954 Christian Science Monitor news story titled, Cadillac Declares Top Power: "The wrap-around, panoramic windshield follows the trend in most General Motors cars this year, designed to move back the corner post blind spot from the driver's vision. These windshields add 186 square inches to the window area. A total of 55 square inches has been added to the over-all window space compared with 1953."
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