John Akouri Newsblog


My Photo
Location: Birmingham, MI, United States

Councilman John Akouri, former Washington, DC Press Secretary & Capitol Hill Advisor, is President & CEO of the Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

First-ever Lebanese American Inducted into The Automotive Hall of Fame Tonight; Richard D. Caleal Designer of the 1949 Ford: 'The Car That Saved Ford'

RICHARD D. CALEAL (1912 – 2006), the self-taught son of immigrant Lebanese parents, rose to head advanced styling for Ford Motor Co., and was the chief designer of the groundbreaking 1949 Ford.
In addition to Caleal,the Automotive Hall of Fame inductee class of 2009 included Craig Breedlove, Wunibald Kamm, Hal Sperlich and Mickey Thompson. (Caleal, Kamm and Thompson were inducted posthumously), all individuals representing motorsports, design, engineering, and product planning. Formal induction ceremonies took place this evening at the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center.
Born in Lansing, Michigan in 1912, Richard Caleal, the son of Lebanese immigrant parents, began drawing automobiles at the age of seven. Self-taught and passionate about automotive design, Caleal worked at Hudson, REO, General Motors and Packard before going to Studebaker and becoming a member of the famed Raymond Loewy Design Team.
In 1946, he began working as a freelance designer for George Walker, who had been awarded the design contract for the 1949 Ford. Within a three-week timeframe, working on his kitchen table in his small bungalow in Mishawaka, Indiana, Caleal designed and completed his prototype quarter-scale model which was personally selected by Henry Ford II to become the 1949 Ford. Richard Caleal’s model went into production, virtually unchanged, except for the spinner grille and horizontal taillights.
Often referred to as, “The Car that Saved an Empire,” the 1949 Ford rocketed Ford Motor Company from its bleak financial depths. So well was Caleal’s 1949 Ford received, its basic design was used in the two model years to follow and, moreover, set the trend for all automobile design of the future. Even before it officially appeared in the dealership showrooms, the 1949 Ford attracted 1.3 million orders and made Ford Motor Company an unbelievable $177,000,000 profit that year. It also received the prestigious Fashion Academy Award in 1949 and was given that distinct and coveted honor again in 1950.
Caleal was then appointed Head of Advanced Styling for Ford Motor Company. From Ford he was hired by Chrysler Corporation as a Studio Director and went on to head the Dodge Truck Studio, ending his career in Body Ornamentation. Throughout the years, many people tried to take credit for the design of the 1949 Ford and to discredit Richard Caleal. Ford Motor Company officially recognized Mr. Caleal as the designer of the 1949 Ford on December 10, 2003 when he received an award from Ford Motor Company. He is represented in an exhibit at the Henry Ford Museum Dearborn, Michigan.
Knowing and working with all of the automotive greats such as Gordon Buehrig, Harley Earle, Raymond Loewy, Vince Gardner, Bill Mitchell, K.T. Keller, John Rhinehart and others, Richard Caleal was truly the last of the greatest automotive design generation. Caleal died in 2006 and with this evening's induction is posthumously accorded the highest place of honor in the International Motor Vehicle Industry.
The Automotive Hall of Fame is the only industry-wide means to honor the men and women of the global motor vehicle and related industries. It is dedicated to preserving the history of mobility by celebrating the creativity, toil and genius of the individual. The Automotive Hall of Fame is both a visitor attraction and an educational resource for inspiring others to higher levels of achievement in their own work and lives. For more information about the Automotive Hall of Fame, visit

JOHN AKOURI ONLINE NEWSROOM 'We will confront this mortal danger to all humanity. We will not tire, or rest, until the war on terror is won.' -- PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH Add to end of above"line without paranthesis when wanting to loop sound (( loop="-1">