Tutorial: If I Had Designed It Class

Design and Construction Considerations for
If I Had Designed It:

To qualify in this Class, the entries must be more than, and different from, typical concept cars which didn’t always display production-ready ergonomic and mechanical considerations. An ideal entry would present a full range of design elements: innovative exterior styling, fresh interior appointments, and real-world operating considerations (ramp angles, chassis-to-ground clearance issues, appropriate headroom, and so forth). To demonstrate the thinking and planning that went into each entry, each entry must be accompanied by a written description summarizing and discussing what design decisions were made and why, and how the present scale design could result in a car that could be used realistically on roads. Innovative entrants could create a faux Press Kit, magazine article in which the faux design was covered, and so forth.

Qualifying models can come from any era, and there is no limit on the manufacturer of the depicted design (whether foreign or domestic).

Check out these selected photos and notes to illustrate historic designs that various manufacturers have previously campaigned:

American Motors



This beautiful Vince Gardner design for American Motors in 1968 was also realistic. Check out the ramp angles, wheel-to-fender clearance and full compliment of windows that would permit full visual access.

Buick Wildcat III

Buick WC3

If you were interested in Buicks of the early Fifties, and worked for Harley Earl, you might have designed this beautiful convertible. Note that there aren’t any design elements that are rooted in the historical era being portrayed.



This ’68 Ford XL was restyled by the famed Alexander Brothers for the Ford Division from designs supplied by Ford. In this office Press Photo, the sleek roof line and subtle changes to the front and rear grilles and lights, as well as the vents in the rear quarter panels, can be easily seen. Though restyled, the Fiera was a thoroughly plausible design that could be used every day.


To satisfy the rules of this Class, a savvy entrant could prepare a faux Press Kit text (and other elements to explain the design) that accompanied each Press Photo

Lincoln XL-500


In the early Fifties, the Ford Motor Company styling studio designed this sleek, if odd–to-today’s-tastes, bubble-topped coupe. Test your knowledge of how many later Mercury design elements show up in this running prototype that appeared in at least one early Fifties movies. An aggressive air conditioning system was built to offset the “solar gain” that would have otherwise made the interior of the car very uncomfortable.


This illustration accompanied a magazine article on the XL-500 would be an interesting element of a successful entry at GSL. Think outside the box – prepare a faux article from the time period which article would be presented in a style matching the era of the model entered. With contemporary technology, it wouldn’t be difficult to fashion a thoroughly persuasive “historical” presentation – think creatively!

 LTD Berline

LTD Berline520

If you are interested in large luxury cars, you could remodel a 1970 Ford LTD. While it appears that the grille prow isn’t realistic, check out the 1971 Thunderbird and 1970 Mercury Cyclone!

Monza SS


This sleek design, bearing no small resemblance to the ’68 Corvette, was designed and built in the mid-Sixties at General Motors. Think about what other designs might have been created at GM that would have presaged later GM production vehicles – and then explain your entry.

Mustang Milano


The Ford Division campaigned this hatchback Mustang two years before the 1971 Mustang debuted. The hatchback appeared on the 1961 Jag coupe, and the front grille/hidden headlight design was already on many Ford and L-M Division cars by the late Sixties.

Super Cyclone

Super Cyclone520

What if you are dissatisfied with the 1964 Comet Caliente and wanted to build a sleek fastback coupe? One real-world design was this car built at Dearborn Steel Tubing for the Lincoln-Mercury Caravan of Stars. You’d need to present a well-reasoned document explaining why your design appears as it does, and how it might be realistically used.