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Book Review: CarTech’s ‘The Cars of Harley Earl’ by David W. Temple

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Cars of Harley Earl Book Review David W Temple CarTech cover

4.5 out of 5 stars rating



Whenever classic cars are brought up in conversation, most people immediately think of their favorite vintage Packard, luxury Cadillac, or Chevy muscle car. But, have you ever wondered how automobiles went from simple transportation machines with function-based exterior designs to the beautiful works of art that mesmerize millions of car enthusiasts around the world?

Artist Harley Earl had a large role in the revolution, sculpting the designs of General Motors automobiles from 1927 until his retirement in 1959.  During his time at GM, Earl influenced the designs of many ground-breaking models, including the 1938 Buick Y-Job, 1951 GM Le Sabre, and 1953 Chevrolet Corvette.

What makes this even more impressive is that Earl himself could barely draw, which you can read all about in this fascinating book written by David W. Temple.

The Cars of Harley Earl by David W. Temple

cars of harley earl book coverProduct Details: Hardcover, 192 pages, 8.5 x 11 inches
Price: $39.95
Publication Date: May 2016
ISBN: 978-1613252345
Publisher: CarTech Inc.

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Cars of Harley Earl Book Review David W Temple CarTech synopsis


David Temple’s The Cars of Harley Earl provides a detailed look at the life of Harley Earl and educates readers about Earl’s profound influence on car designs which can still be seen today. 

As a youngster, Earl began working on horse-drawn carriages at his father’s business in Hollywood, California, but with the advent of motorized vehicles, the family switched their focus to designing custom car bodies. Earl’s designs were so well-received that he quickly made friends in the auto industry and eventually was given the chance to design the 1927 LaSalle for GM, which provided a head-turning vehicle that slotted in between GM’s Buick and Cadillac brands. 

After designing the 1927 LaSalle, Earl was named director of “The Art and Colour Section” at GM, which marked the first time an auto brand created an entire department that was solely dedicated to creating attractive exterior styles in order to lure in more customers. This book explores Earl’s work creating the design of many vehicles, such as the 1953 Corvette and how Earl had to convince his bosses to keep the Corvette in production, until he and his team could work the kinks out of GM’s first sports car.

Cars of Harley Earl Book Review David W Temple CarTech pages

Product Quality

The Cars of Harley Earl comes with a colorful hardback cover and dust jacket with the same design; its strong hardback cover means it should last for a considerable time. The medium-sized font is clear and well-spaced, while the colorful pictures provide visual aids that help tell the story of these classic automobiles. This book also contains numerous side bars that provide additional background information about the people Earl worked with during his time at GM.

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Cars of Harley Earl Book Review David W Temple CarTech chapters

Overall Review

The Cars of Harley Earl gives a very personal and detailed look at Earl’s life and the cars he helped design. In the book’s Foreword, written by retired GM Executive Ken Pickering, Earl is compared to other notable innovators like Walt Disney and Steve Jobs. This puts Earl’s contributions in a different perspective and shows how influential he was on the public’s anticipation of new model introductions, yearly model changes, and many design techniques that were adopted by other automakers, such as creating full-size clay models of his designs before any vehicles were put into production.Cars of Harley Earl Book Review David W Temple CarTech GM pictures

The photos give readers an excellent look at the vehicles they are reading about and the first few chapters set the stage by giving a feel for Earl’s determined and controlling personality. However, much of the text is dedicated to explaining the extreme technical differences and changes between one model year of a particular car to another, which is great for classic car enthusiasts, but is less appealing for casual readers.

Overall, Earl’s life and work are fascinating, and definitely worth reading about. The Cars of Harley Earl is a great purchase for classic car enthusiasts or a gift for those who enjoy automobile history. This book also contains many high quality classic car photos that people might skim through to look at, even if they don’t necessarily enjoy reading.

The Cars of Harley Earl is available through the publisher’s websiteAmazonBarnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, and other retailers.

Product provided for review by publisher.

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Samuel Huist is easily the tallest member (6-feet 5-inches) of the The News Wheel team. He enjoys listening to hip-hop music and loves watching NBA basketball. Sam is also a Dayton, Ohio native and doesn’t seem to mind that distinction as much anymore. His first car was a 1996 Ford Taurus he could barely fit in. Like many young folks, he seemed more concerned about the radio in his first car than actually doing the work to maintain an automobile, so sadly it’s no longer with us. See more articles by Samuel.