Automobile Design Of The 1950’s To The 1970’s

PS: I LOVE YOU – Back in January in 2019 at the Kunstpalast Düsseldorf a great exhibition has taken place. The main theme were the coach-building design of sports cars from the 1950’s to the 1970’s. The cars were presented on dark grey painted pedestals, the walls were black. The illumination was nearly perfect. The exhibition was very well curated and perfectly designed as usual at the Kunstpalast, it was a journey through 30 years of creating a unique shape for the iconic automobiles of Ferrari, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Porsche, Facel Vega, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Bizzarrini, Cisitalia, Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Toyota, Maserati, Jaguar and De Tomaso.

PS: I LOVE YOU - Automobile Design Of The 1950’s To The 1970’s

1950’s To The 1970’s

The most famous automobile manufacturers were presented with their best designed cars like a Ferrari 250 GT SWB or a 250 GT California Spider, or the Lamborghini Miura P400.

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All of the exhibited sports cars are sculptural and timeless, beautiful and extraordinary. Landmarks or milestones in the history of their manufactures. It was a colorful journey through the history of sports car design. And it was obvious that the aerodynamic approach got higher importance in the 60’s and 70’s. The Lamborghini Countach with his very large rear-wing is a perfect example for this approach. But, to be honest, I don’t like this Lamborghini very much when it came out and this hasn’t changed after all these years. But at the the Lamborghini cars which were presented at the Kunstpalast Düsseldorf, the Countach and the Miura P400, the changing of the image of the Lamborghini company is obvious. Which car I always love to see is the Mercedes Benz C111. I really love the shape and of course the brilliant orange painting.

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The perfect shape

My favorite car of this exhibition was 1961 Ferrari 250 GT Short Wheel Base, my year of birth, but of course the Ferrari is in much better shape than me. Another highlight was the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Speciale Prototipo of Franco Scaglione which I never saw before. A lovely car with an almost female attitude. Soft curves combined with a nearly slim body – a perfect shape.

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A car is not just a car, it is a medium for aesthetic, passion, prestige, emotion and the spirit of it’s time. It also could be a symbol of lifestyle like the Ferrari 250 GT California Spider was in the 1960’s at the French Cote d’ Azur with the playboys like Gunter Sachs or Alain Delon behind the steering wheel. They celebrated the lifestyle of freedom with very stylish Italian Cabriolets. It was a statement of speed and adventure.

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And of course it was a competition between the famous manufactures who could create the fastest and the best sports car for public roads. With every development the cars has more horsepower, a better handling, a more aggressive design and they were faster. Pure speed was the key, but also the perfect shape, the unique design philosophies. No more form follows function, the shapes of the bodywork were a statement to the possible customers. Aggressive, elegant, sporty – it could be everything but it should not have a boring attitude.

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The pictures here shown should give you a small overview of this great exhibition. If you miss it, you may look after the book which was published from the Kunstpalast and Hirmer publishing – you will find very good pictures and of course descriptions of each car. Which design do you like best from this period? Find out more about our photographer Ralph Lüker.