A 1930s' Stout Scarab.
Photos courtesy Portland Art Museum, unless stated otherwise.
Illustrations, unless stated otherwise, from: HEMMINGS DAILY
The Streamlined New York Central Train, The 20th Century Limited,
leaving Chicago's LaSalle Street Station on a trial run 9 June 1938.
The Train was put into Service on 15 June 1938.
Date: 9 June 1938.
Author: Associated Press.
The following Text is from HEMMINGS DAILY
Bendix, Hoffman, Stout Prototypes Lead
Portland Museum’s Streamliners Exhibit.
The advent of Streamlining not only enabled Car Designers to radically experiment with both the style and substance of the automobile, it practically encouraged them to "go nuts". Fitting, then, that three of the most experimental takes on the automobile’s form from that period will highlight an upcoming exhibition of the Streamlining Era’s most provocative Cars.
While the format and the location of The Portland Art Museum’s “The Shape of Speed: Streamlined Automobiles and Motorcycles, 1930-1942” resembles prior autos-in-art-museum exhibits curated by renowned automotive journalist Ken Gross, Gross said the Streamlining Theme is brand new. “This is a substantially different show in terms of Cars,” he said. “It’s fun to change ‘em up.”
As David Rand wrote in the exhibition catalogue, Streamlined and Aerodynamic Cars aren’t necessarily one and the same: “While (Streamlined) Cars embraced the appearance of aerodynamics, in most cases there was little reality behind this effort, despite there having been attempts to optimize vehicle aerodynamics going back to the beginning of the Century.” Among those earliest attempts to cheat the wind were racing machines designed to break the land-speed record, Barney Oldfield’s Golden Submarine, Edmund Rumpler’s Tropfenwagen, and Paul Jaray’s patented designs.
Streamlining as a matter of aesthetics, however, came on strong by the early 1930s as industrial designers rose to prominence and as automakers began to pay more attention to the automobile’s form rather than just its function. GM’s recently established Art and Colour design department showcased the Cadillac Aerodynamic Coupe at the 1933 Century of Progress in Chicago, Pierce-Arrow debuted the Silver Arrow at the same time, Chrysler introduced the Airflow a year later, and Ford’s consideration of John Tjaarda’s rear-engine Briggs prototype from the first part of the decade later led to the sleek Lincoln Zephyr. Over in Europe, Hans Ledwinka adopted Jaray’s patents when designing the 1934 Tatra T77.
Against that background, and unbound by traditional notions of automobile construction, three independent designers – Alfred Ney, Rod Hoffman, and William Bushnell Stout – set out to essentially reinvent the automobile.
This Article is taken from, and can be read in full at, HEMMINGS DAILY