Volume VII, Number 4

The Best of Bill Mitchell in Miniature
by Doug Breithaupt

Some time back, TofTC featured the personal luxury coupes designed for GM under the leadership of Bill Mitchell (click here). This article will expand on that theme to include the GM cars from 1963-72 that were the design leaders of their day and represent the icons of the Mitchell era. Mitchell was by no account the primary designer for any of these cars. Many other designers in the GM divisions were responsible for the production models shown here. At the same time, Bill Mitchell, like Harley Earl before him, was the final stop in the design process. His designers knew what he liked and disliked and were heavily influenced by his preferences.

Some of Mitchell's primary design themes are clear in the cars shown below. He was a big fan of the long hood, short rear deck look. Hidden wipers were offered on some models by 1968 to make the hood look even longer. The creased edge or folded paper look for fenders was also very popular. A center crease on the trunk or hood became associated with Mitchell. The '63 Corvette's split/creased window and was echoed in the 1967 Eldorado and 1971 Riviera, The 'haunches' or rear fenders were especially important to the Mitchell school of design. They gave the car an aggressive, active look, even when standing still. Hidden headlights were another common element. Mitchell liked a clean look to the nose of the car and hiding the headlights helped

The twelve GM cars shown below illustrate the Mitchell style. We could also include the 1963-65 Buick Riviera and the 1965-69 Chevrolet Corvair but my collection does not include any clean, stock examples. Johnny Lightning has done the best job producing GM cars of the Mitchell era. Their new '66 Toronado is the latest to arrive and very welcome indeed.

If GM wants to re-capture the leadership in automotive style, they should look back to the style of the cars produced in the Mitchell years. While the Camaro, Firebird, Riviera, Toronado, Eldorado, 442, Chevelle and GSX are all history today, like the GTO, they could and should rise from the ashes. The new Mustang and Ford GT clearly show that the market is ready for the right mix of old and new.

1963 Chevrolet Corvette - Johnny Lightning

1967 Chevrolet Camaro - Johnny Lightning

1967 Pontiac Firebird - Johnny Lightning

1967 Pontiac GTO - Hot Wheels

1969 Oldsmobile Hurst 442 - Johnny Lightning

1970 Buick GSX - Racing Champions

1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS - Tiger Wheels

1966 Oldsmobile Toronado - Johnny Lightning

1966 Buick Riviera GS - Tiger Wheels

1967 Cadillac Eldorado - Hot Wheels

1970 Chevrolet Monte Carlo - Revell

1971 Pontiac Grand Prix SJ - Johnny Lightning