This week, Patti Moed asks us to consider the shapes and designs in our lives. She writes, “This week we invite you to share images that feature shapes and designs. Have fun searching for them in nature, in your home, in architecture, in food, in textiles, on the street–and just about everywhere else.” You can read her entire challenge post here.
Regular readers know of my love for classic cars and that I bemoan the fact that in the pursuit of efficiency and aerodynamics, vehicles have become boring, and if it weren’t for a manufacturer’s nameplate, one would be quite indistinguishable from another. For my response, I feature unique and classic designs of automobiles from eras gone by.
You won’t have a problem with undistinguished designs in this challenge response. For example, my opening photo is of a 1940’s era Lincoln Zephyr. That grill design is unmistakable. One can argue that vehicles are much more efficient, are far better designed from a safety standpoint, and are made of materials that are more easily recyclable. Of course, these things are good, but something has clearly been lost in the process, the art of the design.
Some designs are so classic that other products have been designed that celebrate the uniqueness of the design characteristic. Such is the case of the 1959 Cadillac. That model took the tail fin over-the-top to the point of ridiculousness. Yet a fan of that feature might just like to own this couch created to emulate that vehicle’s classic fins.
Some designs have changed the vernacular. Early model automobiles like this 1929 Hudson often had a short flat deck in the rear, just the place to put your trunk when traveling. To this day, in the United States, that storage area in the rear of sedans and coupes is still called a trunk.
In the 1930s to 1950s, the large, heavy luxury cars like the Lincoln in the opening photo and this 1950’s era Cadillac sported lots of chrome and a large grill area. By 1959, Cadillac put the design into those large, long trunks with the big tail fins and put much less emphasis on the grill. This example, probably a 1951 or 1952 had little “bumps” where the tail lights stood up higher than the trunk, the beginnings of the growth of those giant fins.
As an aside, this is one of my favorite black-and-white images. The car was under an open tent and the sun’s light was cut off from all but the very front of the vehicle leaving an interesting shadow design emphasizing that massive grill.
People who customize and restore automobiles often build a trailer that mimics the design of their vehicle. I always enjoy looking at the workmanship of these beautiful accessories.
So far, this post has featured Ford and General Motors products popular in the golden age of automobiles. Another player was Chrysler Motors with several lines of luxury and pedestrian vehicles. In the 1950’s tail fin era, this DeSoto Adventurer featured a tail fin that in my opinion, fit well with the rest of the vehicle’s design.
Probably one of the most recognized “family car” designs was the 1950s Chevrolets. Its classic lines are immediately recognizable to anyone who grew up in that era. Arguably the most popular was the 1957 model Bel Air, though I believe this example to be from an earlier year.
In automobile designs, there are always winners and losers. For my last two images, here’s one of each. Probably the most well-known design loser was from Ford Motor Company. Henry Ford named the car after his son. I’m sure it must have been a disappointment for his son when the car, the Edsel, was a marketing failure.
Finally, a winning design in a classic luxury car is unmistakable. That massive Rolls Royce Grill is instantly recognizable, and the epitome of wealth and status for those who have the wherewithal to own one.
Thanks to Patti for allowing me to indulge in such a limited scope for her photo challenge, titled Shapes and Designs.