June 6, 2023


Automotive and technology

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


Rod Williams worked in Detroit in the 1950s, when vehicles were operates of art.

Which was a excellent factor for Williams, of Biddeford, given that he’s an artist. It was his occupation to take ideas and thoughts from designers and translate them into color illustrations of what the new designs might glimpse like. The designs he labored on, for Chrysler and Ford, had been full of eye-catching specifics, from gleaming chrome bumpers to sharp-angled tail fins.

“I imagine again in the ’50s, following Planet War II, the vehicle businesses were searching to seize the imaginations of all the folks who hadn’t been equipped to get new cars and trucks for many years,” claimed Williams, 91. “They were being on the lookout for something that was flashy and would get your eye.”

Fifteen of Williams’ illustrations will be section of an exhibition titled “Rod Williams Retrospective: A Maine Son in Detroit,” which opens Saturday at the Maine Traditional Car Museum in Arundel and will be on see until finally the conclusion of the yr. Williams will be on hand to satisfy and speak to men and women at an opening reception from 2-4 p.m. Saturday.

Williams grew up in Millinocket and still left for artwork university in New York Metropolis following high university. Out of money following a single semester, he joined the Navy in 1950 so he could use the GI Bill of Legal rights later on to continue artwork college. In the Navy, he was assigned to paint portraits of Navy ships to dangle in admiral’s workplaces.

He also employed his creative ability to woo a girl from back house whom he was sweet on – Carolyn Ruth. He wrote her some 40 letters that have been in envelopes coated with his artwork. Using ink and watercolors, he developed scenes of the sites his ship had long gone, largely Cuba and close to the Caribbean. He stated he’d had too many other girls dump him, so he preferred to do anything to make guaranteed Carolyn would keep in mind him. She did. They acquired married in 1954.

A Plymouth style illustration by Biddeford artist Rod Williams, from the 1950s, will be aspect of an show at the Maine Typical Car Museum in Arundel. Graphic courtesy of Rod Williams

Also in the Navy, he commenced drawing cars, for enjoyment. An officer observed the motor vehicle sketches and despatched them to Cars and trucks magazine. The journal did a tale on Williams and his artwork titled “Dream Motor vehicle Sailor,” which bought the focus of Detroit automakers. When he received out of the Navy in 1954, he was offered a job at Ford.

At Ford, he labored on iconic versions like the Thunderbird and the Fairlane although at Chrysler his style proposals integrated versions of the New Yorker, the Region Squire and the DeSoto. He worked on some 300 types all with each other, as portion of a workforce.

Williams labored from a summary of concepts or thoughts that ended up to be integrated into a layout. He’d make sketches first and later on a total shade illustration. Administration would review the sketches by him and other folks, and the ones they considered could operate would then be designed into clay types to see what they looked like in three proportions.

“The entire course of action was entertaining and complicated,” mentioned Williams. “Sometimes they needed some improvements due to the fact a structure was having aged and sometimes they wished one thing entirely new.”

Rod Williams’ work for Ford and Chrysler will be on perspective at the Maine Typical Car or truck Museum in Arundel. Picture by Karen Sigler

By the conclusion of the 1950s, nevertheless, Williams and his spouse had been lacking New England and Maine. They moved to the Boston space and commenced their possess business enterprise, creating art for companies and promoting strategies. 1 of their purchasers in the 1970s was Tom’s of Maine, maker of purely natural solutions. The Williamses moved back to Maine in 1999. Williams officially retired in 2004 but has continued to do layout perform for some Maine businesses, including Kate’s Selfmade Butter.

Some of Williams’ illustrations that will be on display screen include things like a gleaming purple and black Plymouth convertible, with tail fins and two options that glance kind of like jet engines jutting out of the chrome front grill. There’s also a sleek DeSoto 4-doorway sedan that has no barrier amongst the front and rear door home windows, so with the windows down, there is just just one open place more than the two doors. 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 Common Car or truck Museum is a comparatively new location, getting opened in July of 2019 right before closing yet again for five months when the pandemic hit. It shows about 50 vehicles 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 adore of traditional cars and trucks and his selection with many others, so he partnered with Motorland, a basic vehicle dealership on Route 1 in Arundel where by he experienced been a purchaser, claimed Karen Sigler, the museum’s curator. The museum creating is situated appropriate future to Motorland, creating a one-cease destination for a vast range of car or truck buffs, from likely buyers to persons who just want to glimpse.

The assortment includes U.S. and European autos, from touring autos of the 1930s and ’40s to sports automobiles, campers and convertibles. A single of the much more abnormal autos at the museum is a Tucker, a person of fewer than 50 surviving designs designed in the late 1940s by maverick vehicle designer Preston Tucker. The futuristic motor vehicle and its eccentric maker encouraged the 1988 motion picture “Tucker: The Gentleman and His Dream” starring Jeff Bridges.

“Miles has a like of cars and trucks and their tales and as his collection grew he definitely desired to share that,” mentioned Sigler.

The Maine Basic Automobile Museum in Arundel is opening an show of illustrations by Biddeford resident Rod Williams, who worked for Chrysler and Ford in the 1950s. Image courtesy of Rod Williams

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