Wednesday, August 14, 2013

GM Designer Paul Deesen, the Pontiac Strato Star, and Sebring 1957

Sketch by Paul Deesen
Paul was interested in cars for as long as he can remember. One day the shop manager at a local Pontiac dealership let him drive his beautiful MG TC home to show his mother in hopes of getting one for his High School graduation, but that didn’t happen. So the first thing Paul spent his money on while in the Army was a MG TD. He attended many sports car races in the east, including the Sebring 12-hour International race.

Paul graduated from Pratt Institute in June, 1954 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Design. He was hired by GM Styling after being interviewed by Bill Mitchell, and began his career in the Orientation Studio, then was moved to Pontiac Studio under Paul Gillan and worked on the Strato Star show car.

The Army interrupted his career. Paul was inducted into the Army in December, 1954 at Fort Dix. He was transferred to Ft. Knox and served as battalion photographer, in the 339 Corps of Engineers unit. He went through training at Ft. Eustis for Project Dewline West (Alaska and Canada), where he served as instruction cadre in cargo registration. On return from the arctic, Paul made a plaster scale model of the future site of the Jamboree at Valley Forge that they were to build. He served on a survey crew, as a photographer, and as a company orderly. Paul was discharged in December, 1956.

Paul returned to Styling in January, 1957 to orientation studio for short period. There he worked on Stingray proposals. Then back to Pontiac studio under Paul Gillan and later under Joe Schemanski, and worked on the ’59 Pontiac. He contributed to the front and side spear, wheel discs, and rear quarter treatment. Upon transfer to Pontiac, Paul quickly sold his MG TD and moved into a new 1957 Corvette.

In late ’57 Paul was transferred to Chevrolet under Claire MacKichan. He worked on ’60–’63 Chevrolets, contributing to new fronts, side, and rear end treatments, front end panels and décor for the Corvair, and minor Corvette grille changes. He was credited for the ’61 front, the ’62 rear, and the ’61 Corvair front.

Your cars of tomorrow are being designed at Pontiac today.

In ’61 Paul moved to Buick under Bernie Smith. There he contributed to the ’63 Electras, LeSabres, and the compact Buick Skylark. Buick studio was taken over by Dave Holls. Paul also contributed to Riviera, Electra LeSabre, and the new Skylark designs.

Paul was promoted to Asistant Chief Designer in ’62 and transferred into Pontiac Studio under Jack Humbert for the ’64–’67 programs, including the new GTO option for LeMans, the B-body Catalina, the Grand Prix, the A-body LeMans, and the X-400 show car.

He was again transferred to Moved to Buick in 1965, as Assistant to Dave Holls. He worked on the new Electra, LeSabre, Wildcat, Skylark, and GS models. Buick Studio was taken over by Don Lasky. Paul was moved to Studio X for a while to work on the ’67 Firebird lead-in.

Source: Internet