HomeEventsGilmore museum showcases historic Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild models

Gilmore museum showcases historic Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild models


If you like me struggled to glue together those AMT and Revel plastic model car kits back in the day, got Testers glue all over everything, never got the decals on properly and suffered absolute disasters when you tried to actually apply any shade of paint, you like me would be in awe of the models produced by people our age who were part of the Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild competition.

General Motors and Fisher Body invited young men of high school and college age, from 11 to 20 years of age, to create scale-model vehicles, would-be concept cars, and not from a kit but from scratch, and to enter them in a national competition that ran from 1930 into 1968.

The GM Design staff did the judging, prizes were awarded in the form of college scholarships, of which thousands were awarded and helped launch many car-designer careers (and designers of other products, including space exploration vehicles) were begun and funded through the competition.

Gilmore museum, Gilmore museum showcases historic Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild models, ClassicCars.com Journal
Models are displayed with wonderfully lit cases surrounded by walls filled with photos and contest information

Many of those who entered the contest kept their models. Some have been donated to museums. From time to time, a showing of the models has been staged at a concours or other venue. 

Back in early April, and running at least through October, the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan, has sectioned off a part of one of the showrooms in its Heritage Center Annex for an exhibit that displays around 100 of the models, but goes much further with other artifacts from the competitions. 

I write “at least through October” because there is a hope among Guild alumni that the museum might find a way to make the display a permanent exhibit.

The display is marvelously presented, with the models very well-lit and protected in glass cases. There also is a display case of other artifacts from the competition, including a wooden box for shipping the models, a television showing video coverage of the event, another display case that shows the stages in the model-making process, as well as a couple of models of the Napoleonic Coach that became the logo for Fisher Body and was engraved in the doorsills of GM vehicles for many years, plus wall-sized photographs and display boards sharing the history and other facts about the program.

And just outside the display is a full-scale “Body by Fisher” coach on loan from the R.E. Olds Museum in Lansing, Michigan.

Although more of the models have been displayed in once place in the past, the Gilmore’s overall showcase likely is the best one yet. I’m among those hoping its temporary status changes to permanent.


Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


  1. Larry,
    Does anyone know what happened to all the documentation from the Fisher Body Craftsman Guild Award ceremonies, and four day conventions? In particular where are the photographs, travel accommodations, events schedules and other historical information starting about 1960, and onward. Where are these documents being archived? I have asked numerous people, and no one seems to know the answer.
    Thank you,
    James Wille Faust

  2. Hi James: Most of this is kept only by the young model builders who attended the events. I don’t think GM kept any of this material and Fisher Body as a division no longer exists. I still have all the materials and photos that were given to me when I attended the Guild conventions in 1960 and 1961. Ron Will

  3. I still have the Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild Convention photo scrapbook from 1961 and two trophies from 1963 (mine and the one presented to my high school). They have been boxed up for over 20 years and I just rediscovered them. Unless I find a person or a museum interested in having them they will go into a garage sale next time I move.


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