Sunday Reissue – Gilded Age

Documenting the pre-war streamliner era.

(c) Favcars

As a companion piece to yesterday’s Bugatti article, and its forthcoming episodes, we go back into the archive to an article from DTW co-founder and onetime writer, Sean Patrick, examining perhaps the most glamorous vehicles ever set to hand-beaten metal.

While we can perhaps look at some of them now (like the Delahaye pictured above), and baulk at the profligacy and sheer excess on display, we ought to ask ourselves – are we really any more evolved? I’m rather inclined to doubt it. But disregarding the more outré examples of the carrossier’s art, some of the most sublime shapes of all time emerged from their studios, which Sean’s piece from January 2016 documents, should you wish to delve further this Sunday morning.

Author: Eóin Doyle

Founder. Editor. Content Provider.

7 thoughts on “Sunday Reissue – Gilded Age”

  1. The Streamline/Moderne style, especially in architecture, has always been my favourite.

    I have always associated it with the tremendous post-War optimism that existed in North America after WW2.

    But, Streamline quickly faded as a style, and the post-War optimism declined soon after.

    Exuberant styles were not suitable for post WW2 Europe or the UK. Too much like an attention-seeking party dress at a wake.

  2. In a contrasting view, design history somewhat looks down on the streamline age with Loewy’s pencil sharpener being the most notable bad example of selfish styling. In the beginning the new applications of thermo- and aerodynamical laws were surely important for engineers to design cars faster and faster (even though back then without modern CFD tools they often misunderstood how air actually works). But by the time every cars that could reach 60 mph max. had to be built streamlined to sell it got just as ridicoulous as the contemporary SUV-mania.
    It’s a great throwback anyways, I appreciate.

    1. The WW2 aircraft, the jets, supersonic jets and the entire space program were done without “computational fluid dynamics”. So they certainly were not limited technically to apply aerodynamics to automobiles.

      The failure of the Chrysler Airflow cars shows that the problem was buyer resistance to radical styling changes. Mass market durable goods tends to be a conservative buyer, and companies that get too far out over their skis with outre designs pay the price.

      Totally different than selling to a wealthy elite avant garde buyer group like Bugatti or Delage.

  3. I was looking at streamlined cars and it striked me that the 2CV is a dead ringer for the Chrysler Airflow: the DLO, the wheel arches, the curvature of the bonnet, the overall proportions…..

  4. The Adler Autobahn which was designed as what was considered aerocynamic to take advantage of the new German Autobahn network.

    How efficient aerodynamic design should look was known even earlier as cars like Rumpler’s ‘Tropfenwagen’ shows with a Cd of just 0.25.

    This Alfa Aerodinamica is even older

    I doubt that Saoutchik had aerodynamics in mind when designing his cars. They look more baroque to kitsch opulent and make it understandable why Italian coachbuilders were successful and French ones were not.

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