Raymond Loewy launched his career in industrial design in 1929 when Sigmund Gestetner, a British manufacturer of duplicating machines, commissioned him to improve the appearance of a mimeograph machine. In three days 28-year-old Loewy designed the shell that was to encase Gestetner duplicators for the next 40 years. In the process, he helped launch a profession that has changed the look of America.
While Loewy introduced slanted windshields, built-in headlights and wheel covers for automobiles, he also advocated lower, leaner and more fuel-efficient automobiles long before fuel economy became a concern. "He waged a long war against the worst extravagances of Detroit styling," commented Edward Lucie-Smith a Times Literary Supplement. "He could take a production-line monster and make it an infinitely better-looking 'special,' with comparatively minor rebuilding. What he could not do was to alter the industry's fundamental attitudes. Gas-guzzlers remained gas-guzzlers, and no fancy-pants designer was going to be allowed to change that."
In 1961, while designing the Avanti, Loewy posted a sign that said, "Weight is the enemy." The Avanti design eliminated the grill, which he argued, "In this age of fuel shortages you must eliminate weight. Who needs grills? Grills I always associate with sewers."
In spite of the differences that Loewy had with Detroit stylists, several of his designs are now considered automobile classics, including the 1953 Studebaker Starliner Coupé and 1963 Avanti. In 1972 a poll of stylists representing the Big Three automakers named one of his works an industry best. Reporting the results, Automotive News announced, "The 1953 Studebaker, a long-nosed coupe, with little trim and an air of motion about it, was acclaimed the top car of all time."