Fisher Body – Fort & Livernois

To the corner of Fort & Livernois for today’s P.D.J.

This handsome peice of automotive history was built in 1928

The same artist who painted the windows at the U.A. prior to its superbowl wash also did the former offices of Fisher Body. Does anyone know the significance of the “S” and the “C”?

Although the name has been off the building for a long time, the GM logo as well as Fisher Body are both still visible.

Here is a present day shot from Google Earth of the offices. You can see the original structure outlined in red, as noted on the Sandborn below.

From the Sandborn map from 1921, the office building (much smaller) and factory show up as the Ternstedt Manufacturing Company.

Here’s a little blurb from 1968 about Ternstedt:

Ternstedt Rejoins Fisher Body

DETROIT, MICH., Nov. 4, 1968– Ternstedt and Fisher Body Division– separated two decades ago when Ternstedt was made a separate General Motors division– are being united again.
Chairman of the Board James M. Roche announced today that consolidation of Ternstedt into Fisher Body Division will permit increased coordination of automotive body design and engineering. The headquarters of the two divisions now face each other across one of the Technical Center lakes.
Ternstedt was named after its founder, Alvar K. Ternstedt, inventor of the first practical car window regulator. A native of Sweden, he applied for a patent on his invention in 1911 but it was not granted until 1916.
The regulator utilized a chain and sprocket mechanism that offered greater east of operation than any previous device. Ternstedt needed financial backing to start his own company so in 1917 he invited the Fishers and several others to join him. At that time, the Fisher organization was already the largest body-building firm in the world.
At a meeting in Detroit on April 17, 1917, the Ternstedt Manufacturing Co. was incorporated. Ternstedt was elected chairman. The seven other directors were four of the Fisher brothers and three other major Fisher Body Company shareholders.
But Ternstedt didn’t live long enough to enjoy the success of his venture. He died six months later and in 1920, Fisher Body acquired the Ternstedt firm.
When Fisher Body became a division of GM in 1926, Ternstedt became a division within Fisher Body. Ternstedt became a separate division in 1948 and now, 20 years later, is now rejoining Fisher Body.
Alvar Ternstedt lived long enough to start manufacturing operations at a building located at Fort Street and Livernois in Detroit, site of the present Fisher Body Fort Street Plant. That remained the Ternstedt headquarters until a new divisional office building on the Tech Center site in 1962.
At present, Ternstedt operates seven plants and has nearly 25,000 employees. There are 400 Ternstedt products on the average GM car such as door handles, window regulators, locks, wheel covers and many of the brightly-plated trim parts found on vehicles.

Info above can be found here.

Also from the GM corporate history section of their website:

1926 – General Motors purchases the Fisher brothers’ remaining interest in Fisher Body Co. William Fisher, president of Fisher Body Corp., becomes general manager of GM’s new Fisher Body division. The acquisition includes Ternstedt Manufacturing Company, which is engaged in the manufacture of automobile body hardware and metal stampings. In 1933, Ternstedt is made a division of General Motors. Brown-Lipe-Chapin, a supplier of differential gears for General Motors cars acquired in 1922, is made a division of General Motors in 1926 and consolidated with Ternstedt in 1962. In 1968, Ternstedt Division is consolidated into Fisher Body Division.

Click here to see some the the radiator caps produced by the Ternstedt Mfg. Co.

36 Comments on Fisher Body – Fort & Livernois

  1. My Friend, The front of that building, says FISHER GUIDE, not body. :)

    I know this, as that is my old stomping grounds… I lived off woodmere in Southwest will 1989.


  2. Make that TILL 1989…

    I believe the reason It was called Fisher Guide there was because some of the steering parts were made there. I’ve taked to people that worked there. and my dad’s freinds with a guy who worked at fleetwood, till it closed, he went to the Poletown Plant in ‘Tramic after it closed up.

    That whole area there… on Fort Street from I-75 down to almost downtown was a haven for factories for years. A Friend of mine’s dad worked for Composite Forging, which is close to downtown on Fort. they are still there, I think.

    Nice Photos… Good memories of growing up in the ghetto! 😀 of course, it didn’t really become a “ghetto” till like the early 1990’s. 😀 😉

  3. Hi, My grandfather worked at the Fisher Body plant in thethirties and forties. He lived on Fulton St. I visited him many times and remember riding the street cars on Fort St for 5cents. ron

  4. Hi , I’m from New Zealand and have been fighting fires in Australia recently.
    I’ve come across a burnt out vehicle. The body Name Plate read like this:
    correspondence pertaining to the
    body must bear these numbers
    JOB N0. 8470
    BODY NO.1604

    Just wondering if anyone would have pictures of this vehicle or information about it?

  5. I had something to do with that “SC” gag… For the record it had nothing to do with the window paintiings. Long story…

  6. Does anybody know anything about William Schnell, a mascot designer who worked in this bldg between 1925 and 1934? He lived at 5571 Clarendon Ave. in Detroit, received a number of patents for his mascot designs, but I can’t seem to get any bio info on him.

    Thanks a lot.

  7. I remember Fort Street and Livernois Plant – called Termstedt of General Motors – I remember after 14 years of service I had to sued GM – due to many of hourly employees suggestions was being stolen. This suggestion committee was very clever, and I would imagine that this type of operation of stealing hard working hourly employees suggestions was a major part of management plans of get all you can get out of the hard working employee who would think that management was fair. I learned first hand how this operations was so clever and no one would have known, not until they had stolen one of my suggestions. There are names of some very wealthy people who benefitted from the well plan out deceptions of ripping out the small guys who worked and fresh good suggestions that they were blessed with are being ripped – off by GM management who were the con- artists.

    This is how it was plan – an employee will come up with a applicable suggestion that would save time and money and would have to enter his suggestion on a form. The next step will be that Management will contact you letting you know if your suggestion was accepted or not, giving you a practical type reason(s) why your suggestion is not financial reasonable at this time or could not be accepted. Here is the back slash! The rules of the game tell you that your suggestion that have been turn down, will be considered your for 12 months, afterward if you to do tell them again about your initial suggestion, they management or anybody can own it. You must re-enter that same suggestion again.


    GM Suggestion Coordinator over this Program was passing out hard working employees suggestions to his family members and who ever else I assumed was on or in is click.

    I know this to be true – you may contact me – GM management tried scare tactics of using the MAFIA to BUMP me off. – I have quite a story I would like to tell. (real names)

    like The NAGY’s of GROSS ISLE of Wyndotte Michigan – If anyone worked at TERNSTEDT during the early 70′ and late 80’s — you will know me…email me @

  8. My boss is restoring a 1931 Buick Coupe, Series 8-96.

    He found the following info:

    Fisher Body Corporation, Detroit, Michigan
    Correspondence Pertaining to me:

    Job #31122, Body#156

    Bottom Plate: Buick Motor Company 31-MOD, 8-96

    We are trying to locate history on this vehicle as to date manufactured and where manufactured. Any info would be appreciated.

  9. 2nd Part of GM Rip Off of Employee Suggestion –
    This operation was very clever in fact it would had gone un notice if they hadn’t be so hasted in stealing my suggestion. I found out by the grace of fate that the overseer corindator of the Employee Suggestion Program was having weekend meeting with certain staff members at his manson in his Study Room. There they would go through employees sugestions that were coming up on the 1 yr anniversity dead line and would re write the same suggestion just a little different but would had the same idea. Later after several months an employee would see his idea in operation saving money and time and could not do anything about it. This went on for many years. If you do not believe me research most all of the top suggestions and you will see the same top management of employees reaping the $$$$$.

    Nagy’s Family were the main con artists…

    After nearly 30 years I must tell the story of how GM let CEO’s get a buy out of over millions of dollars – and that years the employees did not get any bonus.

    The GM Credit Union was rigged also, by a clever person who started loaning money charging a .25 cent on a dollar. Later in years the Credit Union was started and this person was the one over it program, and put most of his family in good position in salary and hourly positions. Most of the hard hourly worker could not get a loan for a down payment of a house, but certain ones could get thousands to purchase homes.

    What a shame how GM let this go on for years….

    When it came to my case – I was bless in get EEOC Chairman to be with me… GM BIG Shots was very suprise at my deposition with EEOC. You should have seen their faces.

  10. Norris, a lot of places are like that. If you’re a engineer at a company or an engineering professor at a university and invent something related to your tenure, who gets the royalties? The company or the university. They don’t pay you a yearly salary to invent something and then allow you the right to sell it to the highest bidder. They invest in your creativity. That’s the way it works! If you don’t like it, don’t expect to collect a salary while you’re inventing things.

    If you have a union job and offer a suggestion, it’s a suggestion that will keep your job and the company in business in North America because often times top down styles of management miss things that only the front line worker can see and because they miss this, the CEO ends up moving their operations to cheaper labour countries like Mexico or China when these money saving suggestions, had they been brought to the CEOs attention, could have saved the local plant. It’s also known as continuous improvement, or Kaizen, the Japanese style of management. You are offering money saving suggestions to keep your high union paying job. You should be glad they’re listening to their employee suggestions on how to make a local company profitable and not pack up and leave for Mexico.

    It’s this kind of union mentality of hating management that motivated GM to move a lot of their operations to Mexico. The unemployment levels in this area are high enough and evil corporation union mentality has gotta stop if we want companies to invest in this area again.

    If a credit union is committing “usury” (a criminal offense in Canada or the US), you report them to the police, federal regulators, or your Member or Parliament or Congressman. There’s actual laws to deal with unethical stuff like that. But, they never found anything wrong, did they?

    If you don’t like the way a company operates, quit and work somewhere else. I got a better idea, why don’t you follow GM to Mexico and make a few dollars a day as a line worker. Or better yet, if you think you have so many smart ideas, why don’t you go back to university and use your lawsuit proceeds to earn your MBA and try to be a CEO yourself and get this “big” buyout if you think the job looks so easy!

  11. I thank you for your reaction and responding negatively on this Employee’s Suggestion Program for Union Employees as well as for Salaries Employees at any of the BIG 3 Auto Factories in Northern America. I did not have any negative opinion against GM Employee Suggestion Programs – This Program is a GREAT INCENTIVE for the Employees and the Company, my concerns was with the Overseer of these types of programs that was gear to allow the union type employee to be a part of the improvements to try to save jobs from going OVERSEA.

    The Front line employee see more where improvement could make a big difference in saving his or her job, but if the program in geared unfairly..this bring down the morale for this program.

    If a union employee or as you say the front line employee feel as if their suggestions never get recognition and see that others get to benefit from their inventiveness of their suggestion, than why should the front line employee even participate in this Employee’s Suggestion when the Overseers are benefiting from the greater suggestion from the employees. (This type of actions makes the employee morale in the program low)

    The rules are geared for this type of thievery to be easily committed. If the rules were changed as for the TIME LIMIT OF OWNERSHIP – that a suggestion that a Employee would put in would stay part of their ownership as long as the Employee in employed. If one was to get a patent # on their idea, than this idea will be on record for longer than a year, this was how the OVERSEER can easily come in a steal the small union employee suggestion of thousand of dollars savings because on these rules of the Suggestion Program was so easily to get around to be able to steal suggestions.

    It was not GM CEO’s or Higher Management fault, they probably doesn’t even know and don’t even get involve in such a program for Employees. But if once in a while if they would just come down and just check on line employees in how they are being treated unfairly in this Suggestion Program, maybe it would confirm and give motivation creativity back to the union front line employee. Investigate on who been getting the larger monetarily benefits.

    So I thank you again, it seems to me that you know a great deal concerning these types of incentive programs for the employees.

    And as far as the CREDIT UNION BEING STARTED with the type of unfairness to loan money to certain employees to buy homes in the late 60’s and 70’s was not fair at all.

    I wonder if you DAVID know more than you are saying?

  12. DAVID

    The Japanese management encourages employees to generate a great number of suggestions and works hard to consider and implement these suggestions, often incorporating them into the overall Kaizen strategy. Management also gives due recognition to employee’s efforts for improvement. An important aspect of the suggestion system is that each suggestion, once implemented, leads to an upgraded standard



  13. Hi, I have a Chevy 1947 and I need informations about it.
    Please, could you help me find what does digits means?.
    Style nº : V47 2103
    Body nº: 1339
    Trim nº : WC
    Paint nº: 213 “or” 713 (this digits is not clear)


    Marcio Cruz

  14. I have two 1928 chevrolet cowls. Both JOB No. 8170

    One has Body no. S 56512

    the other has Body no. S 14396

    Is it possible to tell me what body these two cowls came from?


    Dave Elmore
    Newark, IL

  15. Yes, I can tell you about William Schnell. The Clarendon address was his law firm, not his personal residence.

    To fully appreciate the genius of William Schnell, it is helpful to return to the period in which he made his enduring contributions to the
    automotive industry. The Golden Age of the automobile hood
    ornament of the 1920s and 1930s grew with the rapid rise of
    industrial progress in the US. During this time, America was coming
    to grips with the new and aesthetically unpopular technology of mass
    production. Consumers and car manufacturers alike sought a way to
    make the motorcar unique, to give the buyer a product that was different from his neighbor’s. The introduction of original decorative car parts, particularly hood ornaments, gave drivers that personal touch.

    Ternstedt Manufacturing Company, the first styling studio for General Motors and other car manufacturers, was the industry leader in automotive trim design during this era. Their advertisements proclaimed, “The addition of radiator emblems to the line of Ternstedt products affords the industry a distinctive means of individualizing modern motor cars. Visitors at the National Automobile Shows will have an opportunity to observe designs far removed from the usual and commonplace. The skillful handling and fine artistry of these original creations fittingly express the personality of the cars upon which they appear.”

    This fine artistry of Ternstedt was led by designer and engineer, William Schnell. As head of the Ternstedt Art & Color department and the Die Sinker department from 1924 through 1935, Schnell received over thirty design and manufacturing patents for car mascots as well as countless patents for other trim pieces such as dome lights and door handles. These accomplishments made Schnell, by far, the most successful and prolific designer of the most prized and fashionable car accessories. His marque mascots were symbols of speed, power, elegance, and individuality and have withstood the test of time as they are still highly sought after, often purchased for thousands of dollars by car enthusiasts.

    In the 1920s and early 1930s, auto decoration focused on style and beauty. Art Deco was the dominant design form and represented the rapid modernization of fashion in the United States. Many authorities now recognize the 1931 Pierce-Arrow Archer and 1930 Cadillac/LaSalle Goddess as perhaps the most beautiful examples of all Art Deco hood ornaments. These, oft copied and highly collectible pieces, were designed by William Schnell.

    Other Art Deco designs by Schnell include the stunning 1927 Buick Goddess and the 1929-1931 Chevrolet Viking. The Buick Goddess was the first integrated radiator cap and mascot used by Buick, replacing the departed motometer. The popularity of the Chevy Viking lasted an impressive three years.

    The first Pontiac/Oakland mascots were designed by Schnell beginning with the 1927 Oakland Eagle and a series of famous Pontiac Indian chiefs. Schnell received two patents for the 1928/1929 Pontiac Indians, one for their timeless aesthetic design and another for a unique manufacturing process that used two different metals. The Indian face was cast separately in red copper plate to give the facial features sharper contrast to the chrome-plated hairline.

    The automobile industry led America to a more streamlined style during the 1930s. This was a new way of thinking in US manufacturing and reflected the need of the masses for signs of progress during the Great Depression. As such, motorcar ornamentation became sleek and modern. Schnell designed the Chevrolet, Pontiac, and Marmon eagles of this period which expressed the taste and culture of the era and gave Americans a symbol of speed and national patriotism to display on the hoods of their cars.

    William Schnell designed the 1926-28 Nash Winged Wave, the 1931 and 1934 Oldsmobile stylized swallows, and dozens of ornate radiator caps. His credentials, however, do not end with his personal designs. Under his direction, Ternstedt also received patents for many other classic hood ornaments of the period including:

    1928 Buick Goddess
    1929 Buick Mercury
    1930-32 Cadillac Heron
    1931 Buick Mercury
    1931-33 Buick Winged 8
    1933 Cadillac Goddess
    1933 Oldsmobile Goddess
    1933 Buick Goddess
    1934 Buick Goddess
    1935 Pontiac Indian

    William Schnell had a keen eye for automotive design talent and as a leader within Ternstedt, mentored others who developed into valuable contributors to the industry in their own right. Bonnie Lemm, one of the very few women designers and patent holders, advanced under Schnell in a period when women rarely held professional industrial positions.

    “He was like a father to me,” explains Al Gonas about his relationship with Schnell. Gonas, age 95, served his apprenticeship under Schnell. And it was Gonas that Schnell sent to archery school to learn to pose properly to become the model for the famed Pierce Arrow archer. Gonas went on to serve General Motors as a patent holder and engineering supervisor for 50 years. He further explains, “William Schnell headed the first styling studio for General Motors. That alone should get him recognition. But what put Schnell above everybody else was that he was gifted artistically and in manufacturing.”

    WWII and further advancements in streamlining spelled the death of the individualism represented by the auto mascot. By the early 1940s, ornate hood ornaments were gone. William Schnell moved on to be founder of the Michigan Die Casting Company in Detroit, where he continued to design and manufacture automotive hardware for the rest of his long and notable career.

    William C. Williams, the recognized authority on the history of automotive hood ornaments and author of Motoring Mascots of the World, said this about Schnell:

    “The activities of the mascot designer are generally anonymous. This was not so with William Schnell and his notable output of American mascots and radiator caps. His brilliant mind left us with the most classic ornaments including the 1934 Pontiac, 1931 Cadillac Goddess, and the nude Pierce Arrow archers of the 1930s. Without the remarkable talents and flare of William Schnell the American motor industry would be a poorer place.”

    Little is known about the personal life of William Schnell. However, what we do know about him signifies a gentle, loving, giving, and accomplished man in all facets of his life. Schnell was married to his bride, Gertrud, for sixty years. He was a caring and generous father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. He loved travel, baseball, and yachting. He spent nearly every weekend on his boat with his family and as an early member of the Bayview Yacht Club, he often loaned his boats to the Coast Guard in Detroit when needed.

  16. My husband has been restoring an old car that was given to him in pieces. He has it put together as far as he can. We are not sure of the year or exact model. The following was found on the car:

    correspondence pertaining to the
    body bear these numbers
    JOB N0. 30551
    BODY NO.0 9884

    Do you happen to have any information or picture of the above? I would appreciate your help.

    Thank you

    Just wondering if anyone would have pictures of this vehicle or information about it?

  17. My grandfather Bill is still around and very healthy. Finding this picture on the internet, and to read some of your comments has been pretty neat in furthering my knowledge behind the family business.

  18. I was reading Susan’s info on William Schnell and found it very interesting. I have been doing some research on automotive patents and was wondering if she might have the patent numbers from the Schnell and Bonnie Lemm patents. Might she have any additional information on Lemm. I am putting a presentation together on women inventors and she would be a great addition. Thanks

  19. William Schnell has hundreds of patents for hood ornaments, interior dome lights, door handles, and non-automotive inventions. Bonnie Lemm worked for Schnell, but I don’t know much about her. Al Gonas worked for Schnell and told me that Bonnie Lemm was a very talented designer and one of the few women in the art department during the 1930s. She smoked like a chimney. You can find patents for both Schnell and Lemm on google patents. It looks like she designed three hood ornaments and four door/window handles. Good luck with your presentation.

  20. Its a snowy Tuesday morning “Fat Tuesday” to be exact I find myself sitting outside the “Fisher 21” with dreams and questions of what was. I work 1.5 miles from here but I work for Detroit Edison and my job is right outside the plant , I find myself driving past this structure with other structures of a ghost town resemblance as almost i’m there last fan before the wrecking ball of time takes them away and notice that with the age of these buildings also is the age of all of us, not one of us lives forever and how time is cruel and keeps marching on, I a 39 now hitting 40 this year and having some sort of constant sad feeling on how much time has passed as water under a bridge. This building “Fisher 21” and others like it remind me that how many lives you impact is what counts as these big monsters did throughout time. Right now I look at the broken green window squares and the faded white paint and cant help to realize that I am on my way to looking like one of these memories, 50 75, 100, 150 years etc, time rolls on I find myself wondering what floor my mom’s 1974 Chevy Monte Carlo was built on a car I fell in love with and how its been gone for so long, well just wanted to say something in regards to the “Fisher 21” is all , and that I used to shovel A.J. Fisher’s snow as a young guy, see ya……

  21. I have what I believe is an original Pontiac hood ornament. It is an Indian head and very very heavy. Face is metal and appears to be a bronze? Head and feather appears to be a silver metal and the head it set on a round base. Underneath the base it says made by Yernstedt mfg co. Detroit usa. patent applied for. I can provide a picture.
    Any idea what the worth is and what are the metals. Thank you

  22. Bonnie E. Lemm was born October 22, 1895 in Ohio,
    She married William Walsh and died in Detroit May 15, 1984 at age 88.

    I have been unsuccessful in finding birth/death dates for William Schnell.

  23. I have recently found a genuine 1928 buick hood ornament in good condition, amongst my late fathers posessions,could you please tell me how much it is worth to sell.

    Regards Rhonda

  24. The artcle posted by Susan on Wm. Schnell is very interesting. It is understandable that Schnell would have designed mascots for the many GM brands named but interesting that Ternstedt Mfg. Co did work for Pierce Arrow and Nash which were competitors. I have two Tireur d’Arc (nude archer) mascots that I think are from 31-32 model years and say Ternstedt Mfg.Co and design patent pending on the bottom. They are signed Wm. Schnell. I also have another that has the same nude archer and the cap cast as one piece made by the Stant Mfg. Co, Connersville Ind. and includes a patent number 1806224 and is not signed. I reason that the Stant manufactured item was made after the Ternstedt item since one is patent pending and the other has a patent number issued. Do you know any more about the history of Ternstedt Mfg. Co before GM acquired them? How did it come about that Schnell designed and manufactured for competitive brands? Who was Stant and how did they come to have rights to the Nude Archer (or did they)? You mention that the address was Schnell’s law office. Was he a lawyer too or did he employ lawyers just to do his patent work-or what?

  25. This is for Doug: William Schnell was born May 5, 1884 in Dusseldorf, Germany and died October 14, 1977 in Detroit.

    In answer to Eddie’s questions: William Schnell was not a lawyer, but a skilled craftsman, born in Germany and recruited by Ternstedt to come to America to design for the automotive industry. Yes, while at Ternstedt he did design for competitive auto manufacturers which fascinates automotive historians. “An interesting story of cooperation is that in 1930 the Ternstedt Division of General Motors
    was contracted by Pierce-Arrow to design a new radiator ornament.” (

    For Cathy: The 1928 Pontiac Indian hood ornament (designed by Schnell)sells for $250 – $450 on ebay in good condition. It is up for auction fairly frequently. This piece has a bronze-colored face on nickel plate with a chrome metal base (noted in patent 1,804,279)

    I don’t know about the 1928 Buick that Rhonda has. What does it look like? Mascots from that era in good condition sell for $250 – $550.

    Here is a nice history of Ternstedt for Eddie:

    Doug: How do you know about Bonnie Lemm? Are you a relative?

  26. I am a relative of Bonnie Lemm. It is certainly true that she smoked like a chimney for most of her life. We were always told she designed the Pierce Arrow hood ornament and I have some information compiled by the public relations staff of GM which quotes Albert Gonas saying that. He said she was assigned the project by Schnell. I searched Google patents and could find no record of a patent for either person for the archer. I will have to search with the patent number given by Eddie Bell.

  27. In looking up the patent number 1806224 I found it means the radiator cap and not the hood ornament.

    Doug, where did you get the information on Bonnie?

  28. For Lynne – Yes! I interviewed Mr. Gonas over the phone in November of 2005 and he said that he posed for the archer and that Bonnie Lemm was the one who drew the ornament. I am so thankful that I was able to meet Mr. Gonas because he knew my great-grandfather, William Schnell. I have also tried to find a patent number for the Archer, but have never found one. If there were a patent, I think it would have been stamped on the ornament somewhere, like the others that came from Ternstedt in later years. I think the design was never fully patented. What other information do you have from the PR people at GM about the early design years? I tried to get information from them and I was not as successful as you were. Thanks for anything you can share. ~Susan

  29. For Susan — It was good to see your post. The information I have is from what I suppose is a newsletter, “The Coachman”, compiled by the PR staff at Fisher Body GM which had been saved by my great aunt. It talks about Mr. Gonas posing and he stated that Bonnie had been assigned the project. It was good to see your interview corroborated that. This article said that Schnell selected Bonnie Lemm to do the design work and Frederick Guntinni to sculpt it in clay. It also said that Ternstedt manufactured the ornament for three years until other companies were awarded the job. The article also talks a bit about Bonnie’s husband Bill Walsh. I didn’t really remember what his position at Ternstedt was so I as glad to get the information. He was the foreman of the tool room responsible for tooling the archer. I guess that is why we have a version without the chrome coating.

    I have seen on the internet some hood ornaments that are labeled “authentic” with the signature Schnell at the foot of the archer. Ours doesn’t have that and I wonder if he would have signed it. Do you know anything about that? I have also seen some for sale on some sites with the wrong bow.

    It’s curious if the archer was never patented since others were. Bonnie had three patents — one hood ornament, one door handle and one window regulator. I’m hoping to be awarded a ticket to Antiques Roadshow so they can apply their experts to this.

    I’m really envious that you were able to talk to Mr Gonas. How old was he?

  30. My information on Bonnie Lemm came from a variety of sources, mostly modern internet sites easily available by typing “Bonnie Lemm Walsh” into Google.

    I’ve been fascinated by the classic automotive hood ornaments since childhood, and my initial info on Bonnie Lemm came about back in the early 1970’s when I had the opportunity to visit with famed stylist Raymond Dietrich at his home in Albuquerque, NM. I was in my mid-20’s at the time and Ray was in his mid-70’s.

    We got talking about various contemporaries of Mr. Dietrich and somewhere during this conversation I asked him if he had ever heard of Bonnie Lemm. Through rather primitive (pre-internet) patent research I had learned of her name, but I had come up empty on finding her using the non-internet resources available in that day.

    Mr. Dietrich knew her and (paraphrasing) described her as extremely talented, smoked constantly, and could outswear any male co-worker. He attributed the latter two traits to her desire to be accepted in what was then a virtually all-male world. He told me that she was about his age (Dietrich was born in 1894) and that he thought she had married just before World War II to a man named Walsh, Welsh, or something like that.

    I held this information for years, unable to confirm anything until about ten years when various genealogical sites, notably the LDS appeared. At this time I found a Bonnie E. Lemm born in 1895, and a Bonnie E. Walsh (same birth date) who died in 1984. While a good defense lawyer might discredit this information as untrue, my experience with genealogical research leads me to be nearly 100% certain of these dates.

    I have not found a marriage record, although one internet site gives 1940 as the year of marriage. Since my first posting on this site I’ve discovered her full name – Bonnie Eva Lemm – and her place of birth, Clyde, OH.

    I had kept my notes on this from that long ago visit with Ray Dietrich, and was amazed and pleased to find vital statistics that corroborated his recollections. This meeting also yielded a moment of “personal stupidity”. We talked about some of his favorite custom body designs and he suddenly grabbed a pen and a napkin, sketching a convertible sedan with a three-position top that he designed but never built. Somehow in the excitement of the moment I left and never bothered to ask if I could save this napkin. I’m quite sure that it was thrown in the garbage shortly after my departure and lost to history. How sad!

    I continue to feel very confident that my info on Bonnie Lemm Walsh is correct, although I would be very pleased rather than offended if someone steps forward with corrections. I’ve collected hood ornaments most of my life and a Pierce-Arrow adorns my home office desk. While it is inscribed with William Schnell’s name, all sorts of anecdotal evidence points to Bonnie Lemm as the true artist.

    I, too, have been frustrated by the inability to find a patent. My archer is inscribed “Patent Pending” on the underside of the base. I’m assuming that a design patent was applied for, but withdrawn. The Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company was then part of the Studebaker Corporation, and the whole operation was spinning into bankruptcy. I’m guessing that the assumed withdrawal may have simply been a cost-cutting effort. Of course Studebaker came out of bankruptcy to last until 1966 as a car manufacturer, while P-A once again became independent, but staggered on with very limited production only until 1938.

  31. Doug and Lynne – This is fascinating information and I am so happy to read your posts. Thanks for sharing. Mr. Gonas told me that William Schnell asked him to go to the assembly line of the Archer and bring back 3 for him — one for Schnell and one for each of his two daughters. I have one of those Archers. It is a bronze color and not chrome. The one in Mr. Gonas’s home is bronze as well. The mascot does say W. N. Schnell near the feet and this is probably what people are calling a signature, though it is not in script. I have seen the Archer up for auction on ebay only five times in seven years with the correct bow and arrow. I check ebay nearly daily to build my collection of William Schnell hood ornaments and other auto trim pieces and keep track of what sells. The arrow was easily broken or lost and ebay sellers try to replace it before they sell. Most of those look very fake. The average price for the Archer (with or without the bow) on ebay in the past 7 years is about $650. The highest price paid was $1526 without a bow or arrow. The highest price paid that includes an original bow and arrow is $1050.

    I paid about $50 on ebay for an automotive dome light that Schnell designed.

    I interviewed Mr. Gonas over the phone in 2005 when he was 93. I met him in Grosse Pointe, Michigan the following year and took him to breakfast when he gave me an original 1933 Pontiac Indian from his personal collection because this is one of the many hood ornaments that Schnell designed. I maintained a friendship with Gonas (periodic phone calls, Christmas cards) until he died on Christmas in 2007. I think of him often. He was one of the very few who visited Schnell in the nursing home before Schnell died.

    For Doug – Have you seen the series of books by James Colwill on ebay titled “The Automotive Mascot, A Design in Motion?” There are 3 volumes and you would love the history and photos. William William’s book “Motoring Mascots of the World” is the bible of early auto mascots. I was able to interview him before he died. His book is out of print but sells periodically on ebay. I bought mine for $113 but it can sell for much higher.

    Lynne – Bonnie’s hood ornament sells quite often on ebay, and though I haven’t kept track of the price paid, I can help you do that if you are not familiar with ebay.

    Best wishes,

  32. Doug,

    I have been looking for some information on my family’s history that came my way quite a number of years ago but it is buried in the attic somewhere so it may take a while to unearth. Bonnie probably was born in Clyde, Ohio since her parents and one sister are buried there. However, she grew up in Fremont, Ohio where her father had a small farm. The birth, death and marriage dates are all correct.


  33. Worked one night ,never returned to collect my pay in 1947 at the Fisher Body Co, Any chance to collect?

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