The concept of streamlining has fascinated people for generations. Beginning in the 1930s and extending until the outbreak of the World War II, automotive designers embraced the challenge of styling and building truly streamlined cars that were fast and fuel-efficient. They were encouraged by the confluence of aircraft design with the sleek shapes of fast railroad locomotives; new advanced highways such as the Autobahns; and events like the 1939 New York City World’s Fair, which showcased futuristic design.
The Shape of Speed presents a select group of rare automobiles and motorcycles that demonstrate how auto designers translated the concept of aerodynamic efficiency into exciting machines that in many cases, looked as though they were moving while at rest.
The Museum will display 17 cars and two motorcycles—the best of that era’s streamlined offerings—from Europe and the United States. Engineering drawings and period photographs will show some of the aircraft, railroad, ship and yacht designs that influenced the automakers.
Featured designers and engineers include European streamlining pioneer Paul Jaray, along with Richard Buckminster Fuller, Norman Bel Geddes, Raymond Loewy, Harley J. Earl, Hermann Ahrens, Georges Paulin, Joseph Figoni, Dr. Wunibald Kamm, Otto Kuhler, Jean Bugatti, Hans Ledwinka, Gordon Buehrig, and others.
The Shape of Speed: Streamlined Automobiles and Motorcycles, 1930–1942 is accompanied by a range of related programs and events, as well as a catalogue. For more information and updates, please visit portlandartmuseum.org.
Author, historian, curator and concours judge channels his automotive passion for our education and entertainment......Ken loves living the dream of the "car guy." "I've met amazing people and built an interesting business that combines writing and museum consulting; given that I have a reasonable knowledge of vintage cars, this has led to some unusual opportunities," he says with a smile. "My wife, Trish [Serratore, senior vice president of ASE and president of NATEF], who is also in the automobile industry, is fascinated that magazines will come to the house, or I'll go to an event, or simply hang out in the garage tinkering with my old Fords, and those things make me really happy. She says, 'You're always enthusiastic about this, you never get tired of it.' And I am. This hobby is still very vibrant and compelling, and I hope to be able to continue in it for a long time. Many of my friends are retired, and I'm well past retirement age, but I have a lot of energy, and I really don't intend to stop doing a lot of what I'm doing. If anything, I'm trying to do even more."
This article originally appeared in the December, 2013 issue of Hemmings Classic Car.