The Mustang I Designer - Phil Clark
© Holly Clark, Wolfgang Kohrn - Last update 20th. Sept. 2006
The Man behind the Pony
passion for music never ended until his final days.
Phil Clark was born October 27, 1935 in Iowa. He moved to Nashville Tennessee not long after PEARL HARBOR-- 1942. Phil's father was with the Civilian Conservation Corps (Federal Government). The Nashville move was a job change for the family for Mr. Clark to work on the Air Base (Corps of Engineers) & then Avco ( making planes for the World War II war effort). He sent Phil to Peabody Demonstration (private)School where Phil already had learned to play his first of many instruments--a ukulele.
(Editors note: We will emphasize this later again, because it has a relation to a Mustang study called ALLEGRO.)
I (Marilyn) met him, while he worked with a construction site (Rogers Construction) near my house. He saw me cutting our grass when he would drive by to the site, and he asked me out. Phil and I dated for the following 7 years.
As a teenage he was on the Nol Ball Show where he did Pan amine. He also played the Piano there and for all the Talent Scouts. My greatest memory is when he played "Rhapsody and Blue" for me. Phil later went to Hillsboro High School, where he was in many Talent shows, and won many awards.
He played a lot at our school(West End) and since we did not have a TV yet, so those things (talent shows at schools) were really popular. He also wore silk and satan shirts that his sister Barbara made for him. His outfits made him look like Elvis Presley so all the girls were attracted to him because Elvis was very popular.
He even played with Pat Boone. I remember him beating Pat Boone at War Memorial in Downtown Nashville in a Talent contest. That was 1952, I think. He was given a scholarship to Vanderbilt University where he was planning to be a Doctor, but he could not keep the hours up, though he tried.
He also worked for AVCO with his father and was apprenticed in aerodynamics of airplanes engineering. His father wanted him to be an engineer like he was. He soon turned to art and advertising. He even made commercials. While working for Advertising in Sears Department Store.. That is when he bought the 1953 Studebaker; his first car.
He became a real "layout man", but he wanted what he considered a higher class job, so he went to CAIN SLOAN Department Store, and that is.. is where he went to FRANK NICHOLS... and took the FAMOUS ART COURSE (through mail). Because of his love of cars, engineering and art he sent some of his auto drawings to Chrysler Corporation, and received a letter from them that told him to choose a Auto Design School, complete the course (with honors) and then come back to them. They recommended two schools: Pratt in New York or Art Center School of Design in Los Angeles .
His mom and dad said absolutely NO, you aren't going! (She knew he was very sick and didn't want him so far away) Since his family wouldn't help him, I bought his car and gave him $970.00 for the title and let him keep the car. That ended in a family joke--he married me just to get the car back. (Marilyn fades back into time as she remembers) He really loved that Studebaker.
It was on the way to California in the Studebaker that we saw the Wild Mustangs in Nevada and Phil decided to start drawing the Stallion to represent his cars. He got the idea from the Ferrari horse emblem. He had gone to California with big plans. He wanted to one day have his own line of cars that you would step into like the body by Fisher cars, but his cars would say, Body By Clark, and the Mustang Stallion would represent the Clark cars.
He had already his health problems before we married. I remember meeting Phil's Doctor, and he saw my engagement ring. He said, I need you to come to my office, so I did. He said, "Do you realize what you are doing? Phil isn't going to live very long. Make sure you have (life) insurance, (and he just shook his head), what kind of path you will have--I am not sure". I told him, "I love him and I am going to marry him". His Mom said that he just wasn't physically able to get married and she kept saying to him that
'you are sick'-'you CAN'T work- you are too ill'. I dated him the whole 7 years without meeting his mother. because he was scared his mother would break us up--a sad story. His sister, Barbara was the one who took care of us. She made beautiful clothes. I remember a blue dress that made me look like a Southern Belle with big puff sleeves--yes, she fought the family for us tooth and nail, even when he told them we were going to England. Phil thought (1964)America didn't appreciate what he had to offer since it wasn't football, baseball etc. He thought the English were more educated and he could do more with his artistic talent (and be appreciated for it). He loved the museums, ART and OPERA. He appreciated culture, he felt like he was English. We always ate in the dining room, at the table. He wanted candlelight dinners with fine foods, like asparagus and veal. At one point he said he wanted to learn to be a CHEF. In Rochester, New YORK at to FOUR SEASONS he had a 7 course MEAL, and felt that is how one should always eat. He had his own views on children too.
He used to say, 'It doesn't matter if you only have a dime in your pocket, you can always look like a rich man. You may have one pair of nice shoes, and one suit, .but you can look nice, when you go out'. That is all he had, one pair of each. We were not rich.
GM was a time when he was being very creative, he started looking less suave, many said he began to look like a slob. (When he was on an artistic roll, that was all he could think about, was the art he was involved in, the rest of the world stopped.) He couldn't get to work because our car was beat to pieces since we had to park on the side walk. so we bought a 56 Chrysler---but that is another story.
In Detroit as long as we lived with Elaine and Fred Hoadley(LINK HERE!!!) we could get to work.. .but when we had to depend on the Chrysler we couldn't get to work in the SNOW, with no money and the car wouldn't run. We lived with Fred and Elaine on the floor with just a mattress in Royal Oak, Mi while I went to work for Wayne Oakland Bank. Phil was let go from GM, for reasons I don't quite know, but I know that he was upset that he wasn't getting credit for his own work. He had worked on the World's Fair Car's of the Future for them, and also on the World's fair (1964) for Ford. He worked with Ford with the promise of getting credit for his what he did, and more money. We had hoped to get on our feet then. That was in 1962. I think he was 27 and I was about 24. Little did I know that I would have a baby in 3 years and he would be gone when he was only 32.