Jack Gerrity (1895?-1980?)


Your letter inquiring about Jack Gerrity was received last Thursday. I first met Jack in 1921 when I was the body designer for the Walter M. Murphy Co. in Pasadena and he was the body designer for the John B. Brokaw Co. in the old building of the Earl Carriage works in the 1200 block on South Main Street in Los Angeles. That was a short lived venture with no significant contribution to custom automobiles. However Jack was a clever designer, perhaps five years older than I.

About two years later Harry A. Miller announced that he was planning to offer a passenger car and he came to Murphy for body design which I made for him. It was a rear drive car. I still have one of the original drawings. In 1925 he invited me to work for him. At first I made drawings for the development of the first 91ci supercharged racing cars. Then I made sketches for the front wheel drive passenger cars and eventually made the very first chassis layout for the "Auburn" front wheel drive passenger cars. In the meantime Errett Cord acquired the services of C.W. Van Ranst and Tommy Milton. The latter was frequently at the Miller shops at 2652, Long Beach Blvd. (really a dirt road along side of the Lour track system of the Pacific Electric route to Long Beach). In this turn of events I was superceded by Milton and Van Ranst as of course they were older and more experienced.

In the 1930s when I was the custom body designer at Packard, Milton and Van Ranst were employed to design and engineer the Packard 12 cylinder front wheel drive and I was assigned to the pair to design the body for it. This was in the Packard Diesel Aviation engine factory building.

In the latter Murphy days Harry A.S. Perch was a salesman for custom bodies and also was personally the agent for the Mercedes automobiles. When I returned from Detroit to Los Angeles I renewed con­tact with Perch. When he decided to leave the area he gave to me some of his custom body files on January 16, 1937. Among the items were these draw­ings of Jack Gerrity. I do not know how many others he may have made, but Harry Perch was Gerrity's emissary to E. L. Cord in the very beginning of the project. The reason he could not do business directly was that he made these drawings in an immobile state and needed a personal representative. Nevertheless I recommend due credit for a very talented designer. However as with Alexis Sahknoffsky, the designs of neither man could be translated to the full dimensions required for practical seating in an automobile.

W. Everett Miller, Editor 

Dear Mr. Miller:

Thank you very much for the information on Jack Gerrity.

It is interesting to learn of your involvement in the chassis layout for the "Auburn" front wheel drive passenger cars. Were you paid by the Auburn Automobile Company for this work? I'm also inter­ested in your sketches of front wheel drive passenger cars? Were they similar to the actual L-29 Cord?

Also, in regard to Gerrity, were his sketches prior to the production of the L-29? Were they to be considered for production models or strictly as custom bodies? This man displays a great talent it's unfortunate that he was restrained. You mention Harry A. S. Perch in your letter. Is it possible to contact him?

One last question please. How much influence did Alexis Sahknoffsky have on the design of the L-29? I believe Alan Leamy deserves credit for the actual production model design. Do you have information that would alter that fact?

The story of the "Auburn" front wheel drive is very interesting. I appreciate the information you've provided and the time you've taken to answer my questions. 

Dan Burger, Staff Writer Auburn-Cord- Duesenberg Museum 

To answer your questions: I was paid by the Harry A, Miller Engine Works, he being under contract to the Auburn Automobile Company. The FWD layout that I made included an Auburn body and radiator. The Cord name was not ready for disclosure.

The sketches I made of front wheel drives for Harry Miller's cars were shorter and in a broad sense had some characteristics of the Cord which appeared two years later.

Yes, Gerrity's sketches were before any Cord production. These were "preliminary designs" submit­ted for production. However Gerrity could NOT be present in the organization to fend for his concepts, a. very necessary ingredient for the successful promo­tion of ideas.

Unfortunately Harry Perch can not be interviewed. If still living he would be well over 100 years old.

I worked With Sahknoffsky at Packard. He was a fascinating person. He made only one Cord design,  for his own car, at Hayes Body Company. While it was an interesting design, it made no visible impact on Cord styling.

        I would not dispute Leamy's credit for Cord production design.

W. Everett Miller, Editor

­A custom sport roadster designed by Jack Gerrity for the mo­tion picture "TOPPER", Originally it was planned for the Cord 812, but actually was built on a Buick chassis by Boh­man & Schwartz.

 It was Jack Gerrity (shown with the car) who also set the overall styling concept for the L-29 Cord (see Post's book "Cord, Without Tribute to Tradition". The originals are owned by W. E. Miller), Also several of Gerrity's fanciful designs were published in Esquire magazines attributed to "Anthony".



For more information please read:

Biographies of Prominent Carriage Draftsmen - Carriage Monthly, April 1904

Marian Suman-Hreblay - Dictionary of World Coachbuilders and Car Stylists

Daniel D. Hutchins - Wheels Across America: Carriage Art & Craftsmanship

Marian Suman-Hreblay - Dictionary of World Coachbuilders and Car Stylists

Michael Lamm and Dave Holls - A Century of Automotive Style: 100 Years of American Car Design

Nick Georgano - The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile: Coachbuilding

George Arthur Oliver - A History of Coachbuilding

George Arthur Oliver - Cars and Coachbuilding: One Hundred Years of Road Vehicle Development

Hugo Pfau - The Custom Body Era

Beverly Rae Kimes - The Classic Car

Beverly Rae Kimes - The Classic Era

Richard Burns Carson - The Olympian Cars

Brooks T. Brierley - Auburn, Reo, Franklin and Pierce-Arrow Versus Cadillac, Chrysler, Lincoln and Packard

Brooks T. Brierley - Magic Motors 1930

James J. Schild - Fleetwood: the Company and the Coachcraft

John R. Velliky - Dodge Brothers/Budd Co. Historical Photo Album

Stephen Newbury -  Car Design Yearbook 1

Stephen Newbury -  Car Design Yearbook 2

Stephen Newbury -  Car Design Yearbook 3

Dennis Adler - The Art of the Sports Car: The Greatest Designs of the 20th Century

C. Edson Armi - The Art of American Car Design: The Profession and Personalities

C. Edson Armi - American Car Design Now

Penny Sparke - A Century of Car Design

John Tipler - The World's Great Automobile Stylists

Ivan Margolius - Automobiles by Architects

Jonathan Bell - Concept Car Design

Erminie Shaeffer Hafer - A century of vehicle craftsmanship

Ronald Barker & Anthony Harding - Automobile Design: Twelve Great Designers and Their Work

John McLelland - Bodies beautiful: A history of car styling and craftsmanship

Frederic A. Sharf - Future Retro: Drawings From The Great Age Of American Automobiles

Paul Carroll Wilson - Chrome Dreams: Automobile Styling Since 1893

David Gartman - Auto Opium: A Social History of American Automobile Design

Nick Georgano - Art of the American Automobile: The Greatest Stylists and Their Work

Matt Delorenzo - Modern Chrysler Concept Cars: The Designs That Saved the Company

Thom Taylor - How to Draw Cars Like a Pro

Tony Lewin & Ryan Borroff - How To Design Cars Like a Pro

Frederick E. Hoadley - Automobile Design Techniques and Design Modeling: the Men, the Methods, the Materials

Doug DuBosque - Draw Cars

Jonathan Wood - Concept Cars

D. Nesbitt - 50 Years Of American Auto Design

David Gartman - Auto Opium: A Social History of American Automobile Design

Lennart W. Haajanen & Karl Ludvigsen - Illustrated Dictionary of Automobile Body Styles

L. J. K Setright - The designers: Great automobiles and the men who made them

Goro Tamai - The Leading Edge: Aerodynamic Design of Ultra-Streamlined Land Vehicles

Brian Peacock & Waldemar Karwowski - Automotive Ergonomics

Bob Thomas - Confessions of an Automotive Stylist

Brooke Hodge & C. Edson Armi - Retrofuturism: The Car Design of J Mays

Gordon M. Buehrig - Rolling sculpture: A designer and his work

Henry L. Dominguez - Edsel Ford and E.T. Gregorie: The Remarkable Design Team...

Stephen Bayley - Harley Earl (Design Heroes Series)

Stephen Bayley - Harley Earl and the Dream Machine

Serge Bellu - 500 Fantastic Cars: A Century of the World Concept Cars

Raymond Loewy - Industrial Design

Raymond Loewy - Never Leave Well Enough Alone

Philippe Tretiack - Raymond Loewy and Streamlined Design

Angela Schoenberger - Raymond Loewy: Pioneer of American Industrial Design

Laura Cordin - Raymond Loewy


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