Guest curator Ken Gross assembled 18 feature automobiles from the finest collectors, including Chip Connor, Sam Mann, Bruce Meyer, Peter Mullin, Jon Shirley, Peterson Museum, Collier Collection, among others. The featured automobiles have won awards at prestigious events such as the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, broken records on racetracks, and were previously owned by such noted car enthusiasts as Hollywood legends Clark Gable and Steve McQueen.
The Allure of the Automobile exhibit traces the evolution of the motorcar, examining the contrasts between European and American design, and significant changes in automotive styling and engineering before and after World War II.
“Until World War I, most cars had been utilitarian objects with one principal goal: transportation,” said Ken Gross, guest curator of the exhibition. “But as tastes and wealth coincided, designers could create and/or customize an automobile’s body, dramatically altering its silhouette and decoration and producing artful, one-of-a-kind objects. Lavish and often beautifully trimmed with aluminum, chrome, inlaid wood and lacquer, the streamlined silhouettes of the finest mid-century cars represent prime examples of Art Moderne design.”
Of particular note is the aluminum body Type 64 on loan from the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, Germany.
The Type 64 is of very special significance to the history of the Porsche brand: built in 1938/39 under the guidance of Ferdinand Porsche, this unique car already had all the features that make sports cars from Zuffenhausen so very special the world over to this day: lightweight construction and superior aerodynamics, exceptional performance, reliable technology and that unique design so characteristic of a Porsche. Originally developed for the Berlin-Rome long-distance race, Type 64, due to the war, never entered a race in its lifetime. But it marks an essential milestone en route to the first Porsche, Type 356 built in 1948.
The car’s streamlined aluminum body already showed distinctive indications later to be admired in all of Porsche’s sports cars, its DNA living on in the Porsche 356 through the Porsche 911 all the way to the Panamera. The symbiosis of motorsport requirements and the use of production elements made the car a perfect grand tourer able to reach an average speed on public roads back in 1939 of more than 130 km/h or 80 mph. No surprise, therefore, that Ferdinand Porsche himself used Type 64 for long journeys.
For more information, visit High Museum of Art.
Allure of the Automobile Exhibit – Photo Gallery (click image for larger photo and description)
[Source: High Museum; photo credit, Nancy Suttles and Merry Waldroup]