DETROIT—After seeing the latest designs for the full sized Silverado Pickup and Camaro, we decided to head down to Detroit to get inside the minds of the vehicles designers.
We arrived at their headquarters, and were quickly ushered into the design office. Our guide, Patrick, seemed nice, but a little on edge. “Yeah man we don’t usually let the press in here for this kind of stuff, but uhh… you guys are cool right?” We nodded nervously, looking around, trying to reassure Patrick as much as we could.
Patrick brought us down a long hallway to the design offices. When he opened it, it seemed a little… small. “This is everyone!” Patrick said. Inside there appeared to be a few interns who looked up nervously from their computers as we walked in. It was also freezing cold. Patrick dabbed his forehead with a handkerchief as he began to sweat. There was also a noise that sounded like a big crowd of frantic people working. When we asked what that was, Patrick said “Oh you know haha, those finance people trying to figure out closing those factories!”
Besides that, everything seemed to be normal, there were pictures of their newest models with sticky notes stuck to them, drafting boards, computers with CAD programs running. It all seemed fine.
Then we noticed something else.
Half of the room seemed to be cut off by big rolling barriers on wheels. We slowly inched closer, trying not to inform Patrick of our curiosity. Then, a walkie-talkie on Patrick’s belt said something unintelligible, and he spoke into it, seeming alarmed. “Stay right here I will be right back!” He exclaimed. Patrick then sprinted out of the room.
The interns then looked at us intensely, then looked at each other, and then all left the same way Patrick did. We then walked over to this wall of rolling barriers, and noticed underneath one a single footprint, outlined in what seemed to be blue spray paint. We pushed away the barriers and peeked through.
There were several designers in an extremely cluttered space, all running around frantically. One yelled, “It is so fucking hot in here what the fuck!” All of the windows were wide open. A raccoon attempted to enter the building through an ajar window, and a group of designers quickly ushered it out with the aid of a broom. “Get that thing out of here! Get it out!”
All of the designers seemed to have blue paint around their mouth and nose. There was a toaster oven in the corner with what appeared to be a now very black frozen pizza completely engulfed in flames. More designers ran over with fire extinguishers and cups of water to quench the fire.
Nobody seemed to notice we were there, so we followed the blue footprints through the building, and ended up in the spray booth on the factory floor.
More men and women were there, holding bags from what appeared to be a local Chinese food restaurant over the nozzles. The Impala being painted was covered in hand prints and what looked like hieroglyphics. More were sitting on the ground with sketchpads, also covered in paint, sketching furiously. One of the designers eyes widened, and he got up quickly and ran across the factory floor. We stepped onto a catwalk to see where he was going. He sprinted across the entire factory, and ended up in a corner of the huge building. There he was met by a woman wearing a hazmat suit with “BARRA” printed on the front.
He rabidly pointed to details of his drawing and waved his hands around as if describing a horrible car accident. The woman in the suit nodded, patted him on the back, and he ran out of the building barefoot, screaming, and covered in paint.
Then they did cater us what was actually a really incredible lunch though. Really great pizza. The pepperoni was under the cheese! Who thought of that? Pretty cool visit all in all.