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Trying something new out here that the rest of the internet already seems to be doing. Mostly because this place has really sucked as of lately. Anyway....


I don't know what I was searching for when I found this nice little anecdote about GM's Head Designer Bill Mitchell and a crashed borrowed Ducati bevel GT750, but I was kind of surprised to hear that he was a motorcyclist:

http://deansgarage.com/2013/a-bill-mitchell-anecdote/

In retrospect I don't know why I should be surprised, some of his more controversial designs are the stuff of general gearhead dreams. However there is a pic in the article and when you see some of the bikes he owned you'll realize pretty quicky he didn't just have a bend for bikes, he had a bend for fast motorcycles.

MitchellBikes-650x430.jpg

The lead me down a rabbit hole to a Cycle World article from 14 years ago regarding BM's own motorcycle designs:

https://books.google.com/books?id=NKRYLxEd6uAC&pg=RA8-PA69&lpg=RA8-PA69&dq=bill+mitchell+motorcycles&source=bl&ots=yrprtD6EC3&sig=VuasKNeRtLu8d3qeuzvzMwm9EB8&hl=en&sa=X&ei=H40mVe3WIYS_sQSjrYCgAQ&sqi=2&ved=0CEwQ6AEwBw#v=onepage&q=bill mitchell motorcycles&f=false

but how much of that bled into his work at GM? Tidbits here and there indicate that it had an influence:

Screaming Chicken - 1973 Pontiac Trans Am | Hemmings Motor News
With the help of graphic designer Norm Inouye (who had already designed the firebird graphic on the 1969 Banshee II), Porter applied his vision to one of the early prototypes of the second-generation Firebird in 1970, but immediately removed it when Bill Mitchell, GM's vice president for design, demanded as much with some choice words. "It has an Indian blanket on the hood!" Mitchell told Porter. Yet John Schinella, who succeeded Porter soon afterward, plucked the phoenix from its premature ashes, tweaked it, then applied it to a pre-production 1973 Trans Am and took the car up Woodward Avenue, where he knew the car guys hung out, and where he could gauge their reactions. "They'd go nuts," Schinella told Newhardt. "They loved it and they wanted to know where they could get it." Rather than try an end-run around Mitchell as his predecessor did, Schinella appealed to aesthetics that he knew Mitchell already approved of: He took another pre-production 1973 Trans Am, had his studio repaint it black, then applied a gold foil hood bird graphic and gold stripes. He then took the Trans Am, along with one of Bill Mitchell's motorcycles, which Mitchell had already painted in a similar black-and-gold scheme to emulate the John Player Special Lotus race cars, and parked them both underneath Mitchell's office window. Mitchell suddenly changed his mind on the hood bird, essentially paving its path to production.
If you aren't familar with Bill Mitchell he was the guy behind the 1963-67 and 1968-77 corvette stingrays, the 1970-1981 Camaro and Firebird, the 1963-1966 Buick Riv, the 1955-57 Chevrolet, etc....
some good basic biography materials here:
William L. Mitchell Biography

National Corvette Museum - Hall of Fame [Bill Mitchell]

So here is to Bill Mitchell, an oft remembered GM designer but oft forgotten motorcyclist.
 

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That is awesome. Thanks Geeto
 

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Good stuff. I wonder what Mitchell would do with a bike if he were in his 30's now, with the hipster crowd trying to ruin vintage bikes, choppers fading away, and superbikes more outrageously fast than ever before?
Especially with the known reputation for being preoccupied with form rather than function?
 

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Especially with the known reputation for being preoccupied with form rather than function?
yes but....if you look at all his stuff he understood ergonomics. I think rather than improve old junk, he just bought the fastest things he could lay hands on, bolted on some basic racing parts and then designed his forms around that. If you look all those bikes have rearsets and seats and bars that support a racer's laydown position. Most also have good quality tires for the time and improved shocks. much different approach from the self-described designers today who don't consider that at all when they do their work and actually try to hurt their riders in designing what's cool.
 

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Trying something new out here that the rest of the internet already seems to be doing. Mostly because this place has really sucked as of lately. Anyway....


I don't know what I was searching for when I found this nice little anecdote about GM's Head Designer Bill Mitchell and a crashed borrowed Ducati bevel GT750, but I was kind of surprised to hear that he was a motorcyclist:

A Bill Mitchell Anecdote - Dean’s Garage

In retrospect I don't know why I should be surprised, some of his more controversial designs are the stuff of general gearhead dreams. However there is a pic in the article and when you see some of the bikes he owned you'll realize pretty quicky he didn't just have a bend for bikes, he had a bend for fast motorcycles.

View attachment 13529

The lead me down a rabbit hole to a Cycle World article from 14 years ago regarding BM's own motorcycle designs:

https://books.google.com/books?id=NKRYLxEd6uAC&pg=RA8-PA69&lpg=RA8-PA69&dq=bill+mitchell+motorcycles&source=bl&ots=yrprtD6EC3&sig=VuasKNeRtLu8d3qeuzvzMwm9EB8&hl=en&sa=X&ei=H40mVe3WIYS_sQSjrYCgAQ&sqi=2&ved=0CEwQ6AEwBw#v=onepage&q=bill mitchell motorcycles&f=false

but how much of that bled into his work at GM? Tidbits here and there indicate that it had an influence:

Screaming Chicken - 1973 Pontiac Trans Am | Hemmings Motor News


If you aren't familar with Bill Mitchell he was the guy behind the 1963-67 and 1968-77 corvette stingrays, the 1970-1981 Camaro and Firebird, the 1963-1966 Buick Riv, the 1955-57 Chevrolet, etc....
some good basic biography materials here:
William L. Mitchell Biography

National Corvette Museum - Hall of Fame [Bill Mitchell]

So here is to Bill Mitchell, an oft remembered GM designer but oft forgotten motorcyclist.
Just added a few photos of the "Red Baron" - created by Bill Mitchell. Began it's life as a BMW R100S. Scroll down to the bottom of this forum to view the phtotos. Enjoy!
 

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I miss Witworth. He was an asshole, but he did drive traffic with an interesting bullshit agenda...

Danger...was his business.

Thanks for posting!
 

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hmmm...bigger wings than the motogp "winglets" The BMW aircraft legend lives anew? or simply even better foot warming capabilities on those cold morning rides...

Interested, if not appalled, to note that perhaps the baby shit brown seat trend is not entirely a modern hipster phenomena
 
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