In the early 1930s, local San Marcos company owner Bernhardt Goettker’s father (also named Bernhardt) entered a contest hosted by General Motors. GM offered a set of plans and instructions for young model builders to duplicate the ornate Napoleonic coach that was the symbol in the “Body by Fisher” logo used by Buick, Cadillac and other top GM brands. The top prize was a 4-year college scholarship, and lesser prizes included $25 or $100 in gold. 

Bernhardt’s father was 14 when he started the model, and about 16 when he finished it and entered it in the contest. It did not win the top prize, but he did receive the regional “Best Paint” award. The display includes his award and a gold ribbon for participation, and his family still has a model that they treasure highly—a lasting tribute to the senior Mr. Goettker’s skill as a craftsman.

The contest extended from 1930 to 1968, but in its later years the rules were changed to encourage models of futuristic vehicles as might be conceived by the GM design studio. Over the years, the GM Craftsman’s Guild had over 8 million young members and was second in popularity only to the Boy Scouts.

An original set of model coach plans was donated by Ray Anderson and is on file in the Miniature Engineering Craftsmanship Museum library. A diorama model builder and author, Mr. Anderson was also a Guild member who built a model coach in his youth. 

Note: Mr. Goettker has also donated a Deckle pantograph mill and a RayCon EDM machine to the museum’s machine shop.

Exhibit added: September 2, 2011 - Last modified: May 3, 2023

Presented by The Joe Martin Foundation for Exceptional Craftsmanship