Oh, the allure of the automobile! In 2010 Atlanta’s High Museum found a way to tempt even the most art-phobic person to walk through its doors: an exhibition of some of the world’s rarest and most brilliantly conceived cars in automotive history.
The exhibit was aptly named “The Allure of the Automobile” and once the men in our family found out about it, they just had to go. I tagged along, of course, even though I don't know the first thing about vintage cars. I was certainly intrigued. After all, how often does an art museum show cars as artistic masterpieces?
(Besides, the High Museum of Art is the the leading art museum in the southeastern United States, with more than 12,000 works of art in its permanent collection. Who knew what else we might see, if we had time to explore?)
The High had collected 18 automotive masterpieces from both sides of the Atlantic, dating from the ’30s to the mid-’60s. Each was a one-of-a-kind, custom-built design. Most were previously owned by noted car enthusiasts, such as Hollywood legends Clark Gable and Steve McQueen.
The exhibition was very well set up, with lots of descriptive explanations, such as
- the evolution of the motorcar,
- contrasts between European and American design, and
- the significant changes in automotive styling and engineering both before and after World War II.
Pre-World War II automotive design: Opulence and Luxury
Before the War, many cars were custom-built and extravagantly detailed. They were designed for people with serious money, and only the privileged few owned one.
Pre-war American cars
Pre-war European cars
Post-World War II automotive design: Speed and Style
World War II had a major impact on the automotive industry. They used all the research developments from the war – new lightweight materials, aerodynamics, safety features, etc. – to mass produce affordable cars. They also made stylish concept cars which often became production models.
Postwar American cars
Postwar European cars
More about the Allure of the Automobile
Looking back at our visit, Dan's biggest regret about our visit is that he only had a point-and-shoot Canon Sure Shot camera to capture all that beauty. Still, I wanted to share his shots because I know that – as grainy and blurry as some of them might be – true vintage car lovers can be pretty forgiving. After all, a poor shot is better than none at all, right?