Detroit designers have always led the way in car design. The futuristic concept cars, roaring muscle cars, and sleek racers designed in and around the city shape our ideas of what a car can be. Working on paper, in clay, and in metal, their ideas drive American car culture and inform the way we get around every day.
This exhibit organized by the Detroit Institute of Arts will highlight the artistry and influence of Detroit car designers working between 1950 and the present day. It will bring together 12 coupes and sedans designed across that 70-year period to highlight significant achievements in style and technology.
The 12 cars include unique examples of experimental show cars created for display and iconic production models sold to the mass market. Design drawings and photographs will allow you to imagine the creative and innovative processes that bring a vehicle from the drawing board to the street.
A selection of paintings and sculptures will highlight the conversation between the American art world and the car culture from the 1950s to the present day.
As Alfa Romeo celebrates its 110th anniversary in 2020, discover and relive the brand’s signature moments, from its first car in 1910 and first F1 championship in 1950 to this year’s limited-edition Giulia GTA and future Tonale concept crossover.
The higher demand for special bodies required a passage from a handcraft to an industrially-based organization. Elio Zagato found a larger location at 30 Via Arese in Terrazzano (northwest of Milan), very close to Arese where Alfa Romeo would have chosen soon to establish its new plants. In 1960 Ugo Zagato was awarded with the Compasso d’Oro design prize for the design of the Fiat Abarth 1000 Zagato. In this period the mission of Zagato was to design special bodies to be assembled in series and fitted with mechanical parts and interiors supplied by major constructors. Under the partnership with Alfa Romeo the Giulia SZ, the TZ, TZ2, 2600 SZ, the 1750 4R and the Junior Zagato were born. In partnership with Lancia, Zagato continued the “Sport” series with the Lancia Appia Sport, the Flaminia Sport and Super Sport, the Flavia Sport and Supersport and the Fulvia Sport and Sport Spider. In addition there were some for special customers: Osca, Lamborghini, Bristol, Rover, Honda and Fiat.
‘Project ZP’ proved the Jaguar E-type was as fast as it looked.
Although the response to the E-type was frenzied, Jaguar knew that more than a pretty face was required to secure the model’s future. Under the veil of ‘Project ZP’, seven of the earliest E-types were transformed into racers. And this particular car stands today as the best of the bunch…
Of the six stainless steel cars that rolled off the Ford assembly line in Detroit in 1936, four exist today, including this example that was retained by Allegheny Ludlum – now known as Allegheny Technologies – itself. The company donated the 1936 Ford Deluxe Sedan with a brushed stainless steel body to the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, where it is on display as part of the permanent collection.
In 1935, executives at the Ford Motor Company and Pittsburgh-based Allegheny Ludlum Steel joined forces on the production of a solid stainless-steel car, a 1936 Deluxe Sedan. That car became the focal point of a campaign to showcase the extreme durability and aesthetic appeal of the new metal. Only six of the 1936 Fords were built in total and all were far from being simply promotional trailer-queens; each was to log over 200,000 miles in the hands of Allegheny Ludlum executives until their “retirement” in 1946, outlasting most of their non-stainless body parts and multiple engines is testament to the superiority of the dynamic metal.
Allegheny Ludlum and Ford would later collaborate on two more stainless models, the 1960 Thunderbird and 1967 Lincoln Continental Convertible. Just two Thunderbirds rolled off the assembly line in 1960, with bodywork formed from T302 stainless. Both retain their original exhaust systems today, after 60 years and more than 100,000 miles each. The 1967 Lincoln Convertible was the last of the stainless steel cars produced. Except for the vehicle’s body, all other parts and equipment on the car are standard for the 1967 Lincoln Convertible. Only three were made, once again proving that stainless steel’s enduring beauty is matched by its toughness.
The Targa Florio was an open road endurance automobile race held in the mountains of Sicily near the island’s capital of Palermo. Founded in 1906, it was the oldest sports car racing event, part of the World Sportscar Championship between 1955 and 1973. While the first races consisted of a whole tour of the island, the track length in the race’s last decades was limited to the 72 kilometres (45 mi) of the Circuito Piccolo delle Madonie, which was lapped 11 times.
After 1973, it was a national sports car event until it was discontinued in 1977 due to safety concerns. It has since been run as a rallying event, and is part of the Italian Rally Championship.
The race was created in 1906 by the wealthy pioneer race driver and automobile enthusiast, Vincenzo Florio, who had started the Coppa Florio race in Brescia, Lombardy in 1900. The Targa also claimed to be a worldly event not to be missed. Renowned artists, such as Alexandre Charpentier and Leonardo Bistolfi, were commissioned to design medals. A magazine was initiated, Rapiditas, which aimed to enhance, with graphic and photographic reproductions of the race, the myth of the car and the typical character of modern life, speed.
One of the toughest competitions in Europe, the first Targa Florio covered 3 laps equalling 277 miles (446 km) through multiple hairpin curves on treacherous mountain roads, at heights where severe changes in climate frequently occurred. Alessandro Cagno won the inaugural 1906 race in nine hours, averaging 30 miles per hour (50 km/h).
By the mid-1920s, the Targa Florio had become one of Europe’s most important races, as neither the 24 Hours of Le Mans nor the Mille Miglia had been established yet. Grand Prix races were still isolated events, not a series like today’s F1.
After winning the race several times, Porsche named the hardtop convertible version of the 911 after the Targa. The name targa means plaque or plate, see targa top.
The Cadillac Eldorado is a premium luxury car that was manufactured and marketed by Cadillac from 1952 to 2002 over twelve generations. Competitors and similar vehicles included the Continental Mark series, Buick Riviera, Oldsmobile Toronado and Chrysler’s Imperial Coupe.
The Eldorado was at or near the top of the Cadillac line. The original 1953 Eldorado convertible and the Eldorado Brougham models of 1957–1960 had distinct bodyshells and were the most expensive models that Cadillac offered those years. The Eldorado was never less than second in price after the Cadillac Series 75 limousine until 1966. From 1967 on, the Eldorado was built in high volumes on a unique two door personal luxury car platform.
For 1955, the Eldorado’s body gained its own rear end styling with high, slender, pointed tailfins. These contrasted with the rather thick, bulbous fins which were common at the time and were an example of the Eldorado once again pointing the way forward. The Eldorado sport convertible featured extras such as wide chrome body belt moldings and twin round taillights halfway up the fenders. Sales nearly doubled to 3,950.
The Austin-Healey 100 is a sports car that was built by Austin-Healey from 1953 until 1956.
Based on Austin A90 Atlantic mechanicals, it was developed by Donald Healey to be produced in-house by his small Healey car company in Warwick.
Healey built a single Healey Hundred for the 1952 London Motor Show, and the design impressed Leonard Lord, managing director of Austin, who was looking for a replacement for the unsuccessful A90. Body styling was by Gerry Coker, the chassis was designed by Barry Bilbie with longitudinal members and cross bracing producing a comparatively stiff structure upon which to mount the body, innovatively welding the front bulkhead to the frame for additional strength. In order to keep the overall vehicle height low the rear axle was underslung, the chassis frame passing under the rear axle assembly.
Lord struck a deal with Healey to build it in quantity; bodies made by Jensen Motors were given Austin mechanical components at Austin’s Longbridge factory. The car was renamed the Austin-Healey 100.
The “100” was named by Healey for the car’s ability to reach 100 mph (160 km/h); its successor, the better known Austin-Healey 3000, was named for the 3000 cc displacement of its engine.
Apart from the first twenty cars, production Austin-Healey 100s were finished at Austin’s Longbridge plant alongside the A90 and based on fully trimmed and painted body/chassis units produced by Jensen in West Bromwich—in an arrangement the two companies previously had explored with the Austin A40 Sports. 14,634 Austin-Healey 100s were produced.
The 100 was the first of three models later called the Big Healeys to distinguish them from the much smaller Austin-Healey Sprite. The Big Healeys are often referred to by their three-character model designators rather than by their models, as the model names do not reflect the mechanical differences and similarities well.
In 1954, Ford added a new niche model to the top-of-the-line Crestline series : the Skyliner. The car had a glass roof section over the front seats, made of blue-green tinted acrylic and letting a diffused yet filtered light through. Ford claimed that 60% of the sunrays were filtered out.
The Skyliner offered a very light interior, with a soft green glow : the perfect car for the drive-in cinema, and a a great view of the future’s past, developed in an era obsessed with Jet Age design features. The Skyliner was only in production for one year, and in total 13.144 examples were sold.
On May 22nd (1930), Battista “Pinin” Farina founded Carrozzeria Pinin Farina in Turin. The company was designed to build special car bodies for individual customers or in small production runs. The Corso Trapani plant had 150 employees on a covered area of 9250 square meters. In June, the following news appeared on an automobile periodical: “And now the popular nickname “Pinin” used by the whole of the Turin motoring world when talking about Battista Farina, was officially about to become used throughout the country, as a result of the recent Company changes which led to the founding of S.A. Carrozzeria Pinin Farina“. At the Paris Motor Show Pinin Farina exhibited Lancia, Alfa Romeo, Isotta-Fraschini and Fiat cars. The Lancia Dilambda, the first official Pinin Farina special, appeared at the 1931 Concours d’Elegance at Villa d’Este. His first accomplishments in the 1930’s included the Hispano Suiza Coupé and the Fiat 518 Ardita.
In the Thirties the car was a good that was reserved for a minor élite, almost a plaything for a narrow circle of bold, blasé youngsters. Yet Pinin felt sure that these unlikely, noisy jalopies, which also happened to be expensive, would change quickly to become outstanding and entirely respectable tools of individual mobility. One of the early ads says: “Luxury and grand luxury cars”. Cars were destined to ruling houses, diplomats, maharajahs and even some Middle East sheiks who were beginning to collect some of the first oil royalties, for actors and actresses, more foreigners than Italians. Pinin wrote: “In September I sold a Dilambda spider cabriolet to the Queen of Romania, I began to have some of the nobility amongst my customers”.
Pinin immediately embraced the cause of modernity and aerodynamics. In his view, it was the most natural way (in so far as it was the most respondent to the “nature” of the object) of solving the problem of the autonomous and original formal identity of cars. Aerodynamics, he was to write in his memoirs, was the “form of speed”. At the 1935 Milan Motor Show Pinin exhibited the Alfa Romeo 6C Pescara Coupé aerodinamico. One year later, the Lancia Astura Cabriolet tipo Bocca: elegance and craftsmanship for a small series of streamlined, richly finished cabriolets which introduced the unprecedented notion of the legitimacy of making a certain number of replicas of a custom-built model. Then the Lancia Aprilia Aerodinamica was built, a revolutionary berlinetta where an astonishing Cx of 0.40 was intuitively and empirically achieved. Aerodynamics was no longer a symbolic element, a metaphor of speed; it had now become a real standard of efficiency.