You were about a half a generation too late to have competed in the contest. The FBCG competition was sponsored by General Motors from 1932 through 1968. The first few years, boys from 12 to 19 had to build a Napoleonic coach (museum shows a lot about the coaches
) from scratch. To complete it took an unbelievable amount of effort and skill. Beginning in the 40s boys could choose to build the coach or design and build a 1/2th scale car. By 1950, only cars were entered in the competition. Over 8 million boys participated over the years. The prizes from the start were worth all of the sweat and tears though - $5000 each for junior and senior winners plus a full ride scholarship to GM institute for an engineering degree. There were many state and regional prizes too.
Boys would literally quit jobs and quit school to devote an entire year to nothing but building a perfect entry. In the coach years GM sent an entrant a package of detailed coach plans (I doubt most of us on this board could build one of these things - incredibly tough design!) and offered a kit of materials to help the modeler. Included all the wood, cloth, paint and die cast hard-to-make parts such as the filigree on top of the coach and the eagle corner trim. Boys who eschewed the kits and built all the parts from scratch got extra points. Later for the car competition GM sent design materials, 4 hard rubber tires, and offered low priced kits of aluminum bar and rod stock to make bright work with. They published quarterly newsletters with building tips and encouragement for the boys to finish their models. Finished models were boxed in home made wooden crates and shipped to Detroit for judging. Points were awarded for originality, design, adherence to design tolerances, and craftsmanship. Winners were flown back to Detroit for a huge awards gala and tour of the GM factories and design studios.
The competition was canceled in 1968 for several reasons. GM though that craftsmanship was becoming very poor in general, space toys and electronic toys were in vogue, and boys in general didn't have the discipline to complete such a demanding task. Finally the bean counters couldn't see any $$ benefit to GM so demanded it be stopped.
I entered 5 cars from 1963 through 1967. Never won anything but it has had a profound effect on my life ever since. You can see pictures of my cars in my Journal
. I am in the process of restoring them - 40 years have taken a toll on these wooden cars. Winners comprise a who's who in the industrial engineering world.
Here are a few links with more info on the Guild.
New book coming this fall
A few of the winning entries