Been Reading Issue 6

This Month I Have Mostly Been Reading…

I have just finished Creative Industries Of Detroit – The Untold Story Of Detroit’s Secret Concept Car Builder. The length of the title alone should have given me a clue about the content of the book. Back in the Fifties and Sixties, the Big Three would often create outlandish concept cars for Motorama-type displays or as limited-edition ‘halo’ cars for their range. Given that secrecy was key, and that each of the Big Three employed thousands of people, each of whom provided the possibility for leaks, they would farm their one-off work out to a company like Creative Industries, who would have maybe a dozen people, each sworn to secrecy upon pain of death, working on any given project behind closed doors. Now this work no longer needs be kept secret, much of it has found its way into this book.

That said, the thing about secrets is that the evidence is often destroyed. The author has done an excellent research job in trying to determine the facts behind some of the cars and creations that were born behind CI’s roller shutters – the Lincoln XM-800 and Cosmopolitan, the Packard Panther, the Dodge Granada and so on. Even now, though, little material remains, very few of the people involved are still with us, and, of those that are, still fewer seem to be prepared to confirm or admit to exactly what they worked upon. The author has accumulated these stories and this information over decades, and yet so many of the stories just peter out part-way through because nobody knows, nobody’s telling, or there’s nobody left to tell.

Overall, it’s a very wordy but ultimately quite frustrating read, and I struggled to plod through it in places. Also, there’s plenty in here that only a handful of marque aficionados would find fascinating, while the stuff with more mass-market appeal – the work CI did with Corvettes, or Mopar’s winged cars, for example – is barely touched upon.

The author has done a man’s job of trying to tell the story, even though it seems that the story didn’t want to be told. It’s packed with photographs and information that you won’t find anywhere else, but to read this book, you have to really WANT to read it. Creative Industries Of Detroit, by Leon Dixon, is published in soft-back by CarTech, with a RRP of £29.99.