It’s true there may have been a few surreptitious shots of future cars that appeared in a few newspapers before Jim Dunne came along, but it was Dunne who made a business out of it. As such, Dunne virtually invented the art and small business of automotive spy photography, hiding out where he knew some future prototype wrapped in camouflage would be cruising past, then firing off as many frames of 35-mm Kodachrome as fast as he could before the car was gone. Sometimes he’d be discovered, and there were a few stories about Dunne outsmarting various security guards or lighting up the tires of his Chevy Caprice in bold escapes.
A little background on spy photography: Car manufacturers don’t want the public to know about future models before the marketing, advertising and production departments are completely ready to release them. The reason for that is strictly profit. If potential buyers saw that a new and better model was coming, they might wait for it instead of buying something from the brand’s current offerings. This would cost the car company millions of dollars or more. But at the same time, carmakers have to test and refine their new cars on real roads in the real world. So they take a risk, wrapping the new models in camo and hoping no one will see the new car. Spy photographers like Dunne knew this and knew where carmakers went for hot-weather testing (Death Valley in the summer) and cold-weather testing (northern Minnesota and Canada).
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