Maine Classic Car Museum displays designs from the ’50s by Biddeford artist

Rod Williams worked in Detroit in the 1950s, when vehicles had been functions of art.

Which was a great issue for Williams, of Biddeford, considering the fact that he’s an artist. It was his career to choose principles and strategies from designers and translate them into coloration illustrations of what the new products may look like. The types he worked on, for Chrysler and Ford, had been full of eye-catching particulars, from gleaming chrome bumpers to sharp-angled tail fins.

“I feel again in the ’50s, right after Environment War II, the car companies ended up seeking to capture the imaginations of all the persons who hadn’t been capable to get new automobiles for a long time,” claimed Williams, 91. “They were being on the lookout for a thing that was flashy and would seize your eye.”

Fifteen of Williams’ illustrations will be part of an exhibition titled “Rod Williams Retrospective: A Maine Son in Detroit,” which opens Saturday at the Maine Classic Car Museum in Arundel and will be on perspective until finally the conclude of the yr. Williams will be on hand to fulfill and converse to people today at an opening reception from 2-4 p.m. Saturday.

Williams grew up in Millinocket and still left for artwork college in New York City just after substantial university. Out of revenue after one particular semester, he joined the Navy in 1950 so he could use the GI Bill of Rights afterwards to proceed artwork faculty. In the Navy, he was assigned to paint portraits of Navy ships to dangle in admiral’s workplaces.

He also applied his artistic skill to woo a woman from again property whom he was sweet on – Carolyn Ruth. He wrote her some 40 letters that ended up in envelopes included with his artwork. Employing ink and watercolors, he created scenes of the places his ship experienced gone, typically Cuba and around the Caribbean. He explained he’d had as well quite a few other girls dump him, so he preferred to do a little something to make absolutely sure Carolyn would remember him. She did. They received married in 1954.

A Plymouth style illustration by Biddeford artist Rod Williams, from the 1950s, will be part of an exhibit at the Maine Vintage Motor vehicle Museum in Arundel. Image courtesy of Rod Williams

Also in the Navy, he commenced drawing cars, for entertaining. An officer saw the car or truck sketches and despatched them to Vehicles magazine. The journal did a story on Williams and his art titled “Dream Auto Sailor,” which bought the focus of Detroit automakers. When he received out of the Navy in 1954, he was supplied a task at Ford.

At Ford, he worked on legendary styles like the Thunderbird and the Fairlane whilst at Chrysler his layout proposals included variations of the New Yorker, the Region Squire and the DeSoto. He worked on some 300 designs all with each other, as element of a group.

Williams worked from a summary of ideas or strategies that have been to be integrated into a layout. He’d make sketches to start with and afterwards a comprehensive colour illustration. Administration would critique the sketches by him and other folks, and the types they imagined could operate would then be produced into clay designs to see what they seemed like in three proportions.

“The total procedure was exciting and demanding,” explained Williams. “Sometimes they required some modifications because a layout was receiving outdated and sometimes they required anything fully new.”

Rod Williams’ function for Ford and Chrysler will be on watch at the Maine Classic Motor vehicle Museum in Arundel. Picture by Karen Sigler

By the close of the 1950s, nevertheless, Williams and his spouse ended up missing New England and Maine. They moved to the Boston area and started off their have enterprise, making artwork for organizations and advertising strategies. A single of their shoppers in the 1970s was Tom’s of Maine, maker of all-natural products. The Williamses moved again to Maine in 1999. Williams officially retired in 2004 but has continued to do structure work for some Maine corporations, including Kate’s Homemade Butter.

Some of Williams’ illustrations that will be on exhibit incorporate a gleaming crimson and black Plymouth convertible, with tail fins and two capabilities that glimpse sort of like jet engines jutting out of the chrome entrance grill. There is also a modern DeSoto 4-door sedan that has no barrier in between the entrance and rear doorway windows, so with the home windows down, there is just a person open house around the two doorways. A different is a blue and white Ford Parklane station wagon, with rounded tail lights, tail fins and wheel wells in the rear.

The Maine Vintage Automobile Museum is a fairly new location, obtaining opened in July of 2019 just before closing once more for five months when the pandemic strike. It displays about 50 cars at a time from the 200-car or truck collection of Miles Prentice, a attorney and businessman who has a house in Maine and spends winters in Florida.

Prentice desired a way to share his love of traditional vehicles and his selection with others, so he partnered with Motorland, a basic car or truck dealership on Route 1 in Arundel the place he had been a buyer, claimed Karen Sigler, the museum’s curator. The museum developing is positioned correct subsequent to Motorland, making a one particular-quit destination for a extensive array of car buffs, from potential purchasers to individuals who just want to glance.

The selection features U.S. and European autos, from touring automobiles of the 1930s and ’40s to sports cars, campers and convertibles. Just one of the extra unusual autos at the museum is a Tucker, one of fewer than 50 surviving versions built in the late 1940s by maverick automobile designer Preston Tucker. The futuristic vehicle and its eccentric maker influenced the 1988 motion picture “Tucker: The Person and His Dream” starring Jeff Bridges.

“Miles has a like of automobiles and their stories and as his selection grew he genuinely needed to share that,” said Sigler.

The Maine Basic Motor vehicle Museum in Arundel is opening an exhibit of illustrations by Biddeford resident Rod Williams, who labored for Chrysler and Ford in the 1950s. Graphic courtesy of Rod Williams


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