One of the things we did at the show was join the Fisher Body Craftsman's Guild, which sponsored a nationwide auto design contest for teenagers. We received a packet of literature with information on the contest's junior and senior divisions and specs for models that could be entered (types of cars that could be entered, suggested construction materials, scale 1 inch equals 1 foot, etc.).
Doug and I both began designing and building models to enter in the contest and we both won several state awards over the next few years. My first junior entry was a carved wooden model of a convertible sports car based on my own design. I won an honorable mention and $25. My last year in the junior division ('55-'56) I built a big Buick looking sedan that was lucky enough to win the First State Tennessee and Regional award. The prize was $150 and a trip by train to Detroit that summer.
All the winners stayed in the Sheraton Cadillac Hotel and we visited the new GM Tech Center, talked to real stylists, and saw the futuristic GM concept cars up close.
I was so inspired I came home in the fall of 1956 and began work on two models to enter in my first year in the senior division (the rules allowed more than one entry per person).
One of these designs was a radical front entry car carved out of a big block of balsa. I only have one pic of it from those days and it's unfortunately a double exposure. I'm posting it anyway so you can get an idea of what it looked like.
If I remember right, I received a $50 3rd state award for this model, but it and the other front entry one were both scored extremely low on practicality.
It's too bad that GM discontinued this program in the late '60s. It's also too bad that education which synthesizes work on "fun" projects with valuable concepts is not a part of our educational system today.