Allure of the Automobile Exhibit Information

The Allure of the Automobile exhibit will be displayed at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia from March 21st to June 20th, 2010, presenting the world’s rarest and most brilliantly conceived cars from the 1930s to the mid-1960s. The exhibit aims to trace the evolution of the motorcar, examining the contrasts between European and American design, and significant changes in automotive styling and engineering before and after World War II.

“Our visitors will be surprised to find that today’s vehicles come from a legacy of beauty and innovation comparable to the finest decorative arts that may be found in museum collections,” said Michael E. Shapiro, Director of the High Museum of Art. “This exhibition will showcase the greatest feats of engineering and luxury design from 1930 to 1965, when cars became synonymous with success, power and wealth. Created for the privileged few, the luxurious, custom-built automobiles embodied speed, style and elegance, and influenced art, architecture, fashion and design.”

Guest curator Ken Gross assembled 18 feature automobiles from the finest collectors, including Chip Connor, Sam Mann, Bruce Meyer, Peter Mullin, Jon Shirley, Peterson Museum, Collier Collection, among others. The featured automobiles have won awards at prestigious events such as the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, broken records on racetracks, and were previously owned by such noted car enthusiasts as Hollywood legends Clark Gable and Steve McQueen.

“Until World War I, most cars had been utilitarian objects with one principal goal: transportation,” said Ken Gross, guest curator of the exhibition. “But as tastes and wealth coincided, designers could create and/or customize an automobile’s body, dramatically altering its silhouette and decoration and producing artful, one-of-a-kind objects. Lavish and often beautifully trimmed with aluminum, chrome, inlaid wood and lacquer, the streamlined silhouettes of the finest mid-century cars represent prime examples of Art Moderne design.”

While the first part of the exhibition will spotlight the custom coachwork, art-inspired styling, luxury and opulence marked vehicles from the pre-war era, the second segment of the exhibition focuses on how the industry shifted in the post-war years, with the Europeans moving towards smaller, sportier models, while the American manufacturers concentrated on mass-producing cars for a booming economy.

Among the collectors items from both sides of the Atlantic will be a 71-year old Porsche design that is considered the precursor to all Porsches—the 1938/39 Porsche Type 64. This incredible design piece is the only prewar Porsche and has never been exhibited outside of Germany. The one-of-a-kind Porsche Type 64 is unlike any other car on display; in fact it is not actually a car at all, but a hand-built, aluminum shell that represents the essence of Porsche design. It will be carefully removed from its perch at the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart and flown to Atlanta for the exhibition.

For more information, visit High Museum of Art.

Allure of the Automobile Exhibit Highlights:

— 1935 Duesenberg JN Roadster, ex-Clark Gable
— 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Atalante Coupe
— 1937 Hispano-Suiza H-6C “Xenia” Coupe
— 1937 Delage D8-120S, Surbaisse, ex-Louis Delage
— 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C2900B Touring Berlinetta
— 1938/39 Porsche Type 64
— 1948 Tucker Model 48 Torpedo
— 1953 Porsche 550 Le Mans/La Carrera Panamerica Coupe
— 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SLR “Uhlenhaut” Coupe
— 1957 Jaguar XKSS Roadster, ex-Steve McQueen
— 1959 Chevrolet Corvette “Bill Mitchell” Stingray Prototype
— 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB “SEFAC Hot Rod”
— 1961 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato

1937 Hispano-Suiza H-6C Xenia Coupe; photo credit: Peter Harholdt
1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta; photo credit: Peter Harholdt
Porsche Type 64; photo credit: Porsche Cars N.A.
Porsche Type 64; photo credit: Porsche Cars N.A.
1953 Porsche 550 Le Mans/La Carrera Panamerica Coupe; photo credit: Peter Harholdt
1959 Chevrolet Corvette 'Bill Mitchell' Stingray Prototype; photo credit: Peter Harholdt

[Source: High Museum of Art; Peter Harholdt; Porsche Cars N.A.]