The 1965 Pontiac Look comes out strongly in the new fastback coupes in both the Catalina and Bonneville lines. It's also evident in special models like the new 2 + 2, which has the individualized flair of hand-painted stripes along. the belt line.
Inside, the 1965 models have all-new interiors to carry out the new design themes. Instrument panels now have rich-looking leather and wood-grained surfaces. Three distinctive, tube-like instrument clusters extend out from the center of the panel surface, angled toward the driver for easy reading. Interior fabrics, trim materials, and colors are all new to enhance the richer and more elegant appearance. These are mostly the results of Fedele Bianco's efforts Pontiac's chief interior designer.
The Tempest's lively, youthful character is also more sharply defined in the 1965 models. Headlights are now stacked vertically like those of its big brother. It has a bolder grille to give a lower and wider front-end look. New tail lights wrap around the sharp-peaked blade to form the ends of the rear quarters. In the sporty Le Mans and GTO models, the tail lamps hide under horizontal chrome blades that run across the rear width, as in the Grand Prix.
It's well known that Pontiac's sales success in the past few years can be traced directly to its youthful styling. The car's fresh good looks have been a dream-come-true for advertising copywriters. Much of the sporty, zesty look of both Pontiac and.Tempest should be attributed to the men most responsible for designing the cars in the first place the top designers and the top engineers.
When E. M. Estes took over as the division's chief engineer, he was 40. When John DeLorean, the current chief engineer, took over, he was 36. When Jack Humbert was named head of the Pontiac styling studio, he was 34. Humbert's assistant is Glen Winterscheidt. He's 35. So it's evident that the embryonic design of Pontiac is in the hands of the young.
Soon after Estes came to Pontiac from Oldsmobile, he argued strongly that an older designer couldn't produce a car that'd appeal to the youth market, but that a younger man could conceive an automobile that would appeal to both young and old. Good salesman that he is, he quickly convinced others that young blood was needed to bring about a young car.
Humbert, who'd worked in both interior and exterior styling studios at the General Motors Technical Center for nearly 10 years, was the man tabbed to design Pontiac out of its doldrums. He came to the Pontiac studio just in time to help on minor details on the 1960 model. But the first car to really have the full Humbert touch was the 1961 Pontiac. "Proof of how well he's done,"' says Estes, "is clearly shown in the continuous upswing on our sales charts the past four years."
Humbert has always had a love for cars. "When other kids in school drew airplanes, I drew cars,"' he recalls. He was born, grew up, and went to school in Canton, Ohio, where he bought his first car when he was 16. Since there was no automotive shop in his high school, and since he was mechanically inclined, Humbert looked for an outlet for his yen to tinker with cars. He divided his spare time between working in a gas station, a used-car lot, and an automotive paint shop.
His graduation from high school and World War II coincided and, until his discharge from the service in late 1945, he served with both a combat engineering battalion and the armored field artillery.
When he returned home, he decided to follow his love for designing cars. He enrolled in the Central Academy of Commercial Art in Cincinnati. Shortly after Labor Day in 1948, one of his teachers steered him to GM in Detroit. After a couple of interviews, he was hired.
Designing a modern automobile is a complex process. It starts long before the first shapes are sketched on a drawing board.
"The business of styling is now much more than styling in the sense of merely adding decoration to an almost finished product," Mitchell explains. "Today, our design responsibility is as much a technical job as an artistic one."
The design job starts with an analysis of the market and the customers, to determine what kinds of vehicles will sell. This means a close study of people, their needs, wants, likes, and their living habits. The designer has to know what people will buy some three years in the future.
Then, the designer has to understand the mass-production capabilities and limitations and the necessary cost requirements. He has to know the manufacturing processes involved. This is basic to design of the wide variety of body styles now required for both a volume line like the Catalina and a special, limited-production model like the GTO.
Basic to the design process is the application of "human engineering" to build in maximum comfort, convenience, and safety for driver and passengers. This is an exacting and demanding science. It gets close attention as new designs develop. "We start with people," Humbert says, "to be sure the car will satisfy its fundamental purpose of giving safe and comfortable transportation."
Human engineering is combined next with mechanical engineering to give the car its architecture. The engine, suspension, and chassis are assembled to make up the car's anatomy. Here again, the designer is intimately involved in a technical process that basically affects the car's ultimate appearance. Only when he meets all of these requirements can the designer give rein to his artistic notions and give the automobile its form, line, and color. Even in this part of the job, knowledge of technical factors is important.
Aesthetics is the unifying force for all these elements, and this is the exclusive responsibility of the automobile designer, Mitchell points out. "Now the designer can transform the lifeless dimensions and data into exciting personalities by applying his pure artistic talent to create that essential quality called good looks and good taste, But to us, good design means more than merely looking attractive," Mitchell adds. "We say a good design has to be suitable, solid, and smart. It's suitable for its particular market and its particular purpose. It's solid based on what's gone before a design that'll have lasting integrity. And it's smart in good taste, with style and elegance not voguish or influenced by passing fads.
"A well designed car always looks good, and we know people always appreciate good design," Mitchell believes. "The effectiveness of a car's design is vividly reflected in its sale and resale values. A poor design would spread gloom across dealers' showrooms and used-car lots long after it's left the design studio.
"Ten years from now, if you look at these 1965 Pontiacs, we think you'll still agree they look good," Mitchell says. "They won't look new or up-to-date in 1975, because we'll have even better cars then but these will still be pleasing designs."