Franklin Quick Hershey

Frank is probably remembered as the Father of the Thunderbird first and foremost, but he had a long and distinguished career. He was born in Detroit in 1907, moved out to Pasadena and got his first job with Walter Murphy Coachworks, designing custom cars for exclusive clients. When he went to General Motors in 1931 as Lead Designer, one of the most notable things he did was to redesign the 1933 Pontiac, adding the silver streak of chrome which was to be a hallmark of that marque for years. He later worked for GM's Opel division in Germany, just before World War II.

Hershey at Pontiac in 1933

The design of the 1948 Cadillac was really Frank Hershey's personal baby. During the crucial time of design and clay modeling, there was a labour dispute in progress at General Motors, and the design team moved to Hershey's farm. According to his own statements in interviews as well as those of several co-workers, the famous "rudder-type" tailfin was Frank Quick's idea and Harley Earl twice pointedly told him to get rid of the trailfin, but it was only when some guys from the GM top brass saw it and liked it that Harley Earl gave his OK. He shot it down at first, so it's a little funny when people say Harley Earl was the Father of the Tailfin.

Frank Hershey and team on the farm

Later, Frank left GM and went to Ford, where he designed the Thunderbird, which was a huge success -- a classic the day it rolled off the line.


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updated April 17th, 2012 by Jan Chciuk-Celt