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Hagerty Employee

Harley Earl’s GM styling team illustrated a pilot training manual in WWII—and it’s brilliant

We’ve seen an influx of creativity from the American automobile industry in the fight against COVID-19. Ford Motor Company repurposed fans normally used to ventilate F-150 seats to build powered air-purifying respirators. General Motors converted an automotive factory to produce medical ventilators. All sorts of automotive vendors have reassigned workers and repurposed equipment to manufacture the personal protective equipment (PPE) that keeps medical personnel and first responders safe.


This isn’t the first time the minds and machinery of the U.S. auto industry have adapted in times of crisis, however. In WWII, alongside dozens of other industries, automakers helped to comprise “The Arsenal of Democracy.” Franklin D. Roosevelt popularized the nickname during a wartime radio broadcast to commemorate how America’s industrial might switched, seemingly overnight, from manufacturing consumer goods to supplying wartime needs. Though the battle of today involves a microscopic enemy, American automakers' recent switch from vehicles to ventilators has put the term back in circulation.


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