The Allure of the Automobile
In the decades leading up to and immediately following the Great Depression and World War II, luxury automakers worldwide reached new heights in engineering, aerodynamics, styling, and performance. Considered the Golden Age in the history of the automobile, the artistry and craftsmanship achieved from the 1930s through the 1960s remains remarkable.
Created for the privileged few, these luxurious, custom-built automobiles embodied style, speed, and elegance. American luxury automakers such as Packard, Pierce-Arrow, and Duesenberg vied for business with such storied British automakers and older European firms as Aston Martin, Mercedes-Benz, and Bugatti through striking innovation in engine configurations and an emphasis on elegant, streamlined shapes that pioneered the advanced designs to come.
Post-war European cars reflect the intense competition heritage that dictated their functionality and design. Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Aston Martin, Jaguar, and Ferrari all established their credentials on racetracks, and used road-going models to help finance their competitive efforts while ensuring their survival as automakers. By 1950s and 1960s, American cars made by General Motors, Chrysler, and Tucker came to illustrate the unbridled exuberance of the post-war era, influenced by aircraft, rocketry, and futuristic inventiveness.
These eighteen spectacular examples of pre- and post-war luxury vehicles illustrate the creativity of a group of design visionaries whose artistry remains unparalleled.