Vincent D. Kaptur - 1895-1987
Packard's chief body engineer and designer from 1916-1928.
His fine work attracted the eye of Harley who hired him away in 1928 to help organize GM's body engineering and layout. Kaptur was appointed chief of body layout starting in 1930.
The "pregnant" Buick of 1929 was Earl's first failure as a designer. These cars had a stylistic feature called a "rolled belt line" or a widening of the body just below the window openings. Walter P. Chrysler, upon viewing an early production model, said that the cars looked "pregnant," and the Detroit press picked up on his comment. As a result of adverse publicity and the actual public reaction to the design, Buick sales were poor that year. In the end, 56,000 less Buicks were sold than in 1928.
Earl found this ignominious misadventure hard to shrug off, but help (and a return to good favor) soon came to Earl from the contributions of an engineer in his employ.
This man was Vincent Kaptur, who had been hired away from Packard in 1928. Kaptur's job was to check various car body designs for the different products in GM's lineup to ensure that they "fit." After a while, Kaptur noticed that the completely different car models that the divisions made actually were extremely similar in their measurements, even though each division produced their own models "in house."
Why not, Kaptur suggested to Earl, have the divisions standardize on three or four body sizes? Then they could employ a greater parts commonality, and Earl's department could have the job of differentiating each model.
This idea was a concept of scale that would modify the way automotive producers develop their lineups forever, and Harley Earl was the point man who offered the plan to GM management. It was called the "A, B, C, D" plan, in which each letter represented a different chassis "floor plan."
From scoundrel to prophet in a year and a half, Harley Earl was back in GM's good graces, and his department was soon given additional responsibilities.
Archer L. Knapp was chief draftsman for Packard's Body Art Dept. from 1917-1925?
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