Bugatti Type 57S Compétition Coupé Aerolithe, 1935 (2007 re-creation). Jean Bugatti (French, born Italy, 1909-1939), designer Joseph Walter, designer. Cars. The Guild of Automotive Restorers, Canadian, founded 1990, fabricator. Courtesy of Christopher Ohrstrom, The Plains, Virginia and High Museum of Art Atlanta
ATLANTA, GEORGIA –For centuries, car designers and manufacturers have made great effort to actualize their dream cars through stunning designs. From Ferrari to Bugatti, General Motors and Porsche, the dominant idea is to create functional cars that project style and class. In a major new automotive exhibit titled Dream Cars – Innovative Design, Visionary Ideas, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia is presently providing an insight into the novel effort of designers and manufacturers to create dream cars through the years.
Dream Cars brings together 17 concept cars from across Europe and the U.S., including some of the rarest and most imaginative cars designed by Ferrari, Bugatti, General Motors, and Porsche. This innovative automotive design exhibition features cars from the early 1930s to the present day, revealing how car designers push the limits of imagination to create cars that laid the foundation for future automobile designs.
Curated by Sarah Schleuning, the High Museum of Art’s curator of decorative arts and design, Dream Cars provides deep insight into how each car was influenced by the technical advances of their period. The exhibition pairs conceptual drawings and scale models with realized cars to show the creative process that went into the creation of the cars. Focusing on the impact of styling, visionary designers, the design process, and the influence of automobile design salons, the show reveals some of the outstanding and innovative designs that characterized the period examined. It is fascinating to see the impact these concept cars play in the history of design, and the interaction between science and consumerism.
While many of the cars follow what could be described as conventional designs, some cut across the threshold of the technical vanguard to artistic extremes of beauty and delight. L’Œuf électrique (electric egg), for instance, combines design with functionality. The three-wheeled vehicle was created in 1942 by Paul Arzens, a French artist, industrial designer, and forward-thinking engineer who was evidently minimalist in his design approach. L’Œuf électrique was the car of necessity as its functionality was informed by prevailing circumstances during the 1940s. Built in German-occupied Paris using the materials available at the time, Arzens turned to electric power due to the wartime gasoline shortages. Described as the world’s first Bubble Car, the car design went on to influence later post-war French mini-cars.
Another great example of cars that blend art and functionality is Firebird XP-21- 1953 by General Motors. The experimental car which debuted at the Waldorf-Astoria during the company’s famous 1954 Motorama was an instant celebrity because of its peculiar design. It was love at first sight. Firebird XP-21 looks like a fighter jet with its stubby wings, tail fin, and F-6 body. Although General Motors made it clear that this was just an experimental car that may never be produced, it did not stop many people from lusting after one.
Dream Cars: Innovative Design, Visionary Ideas brings together an amazing collection of automobile designs that reflect the daring adventure of visionary designers, artists, and creative people. Compared to present-day designers, these designers were evidently more adventurous. Perhaps this is because they did not have to follow as many regulations as modern automobile designers have to abide with. Some of the cars in this exhibition do not have back windows and rearview mirrors. It is also clear that they were not concerned with safety and fuel efficiency. For modern day automobile designers, the design is not enough. In all, this an eye-opening exhibition that anyone interested in the history of automobile design must see.