“We dream of cars that will float and fly, or run on energy from a laser beam, or travel close to the ground without wheels. Such research may border on the fantastic, but so did the idea of a carriage going about the country without a horse.”
That line was found in The Ford Book of Styling, published in 1963. And it’s the very essence of those words that drove the development of the High Museum of Art Atlanta’s new Dream Cars exhibit, featuring an unbelievable collection of the most amazing concept cars from the past eight decades. Since its debut a little over a century ago, the automobile has gone from a technological curiosity to an elite status symbol to a mass-market daily necessity.
During the 1950s, the world’s attention was on the Space Race, the competition between Cold War rivals, the United States and the Soviet Union, to be the first to develop spaceflight capability and send a man into orbit – and idea that previously had been possible only in children’s fantasy books. Suddenly, it seemed an imminent – and inspiring – reality. The mere possibility prompted automotive designers and engineers to see just how far they could push the limits of automobile design and function. Thus, the experimental concept car became a dynamic tool that allowed car designers and manufacturers to demonstrate the most forward-thinking automotive ideas.
The Dream Cars exhibit showcases a collection of concept cars debuted between 1932 and present day. Though none were intended to make the production line in their full concept states, features of many would be incorporated into more road-ready vehicles that were mass produced in the years afterward.
Among our favorites here at E3 Spark Plugs is the one pictured above – the Norman Timbs Special, built in 1947 as mechanical engineer Norman Timbs’ personal use. This car beautifully articulated the ideas of streamlining and wind resistance with elongated, curved forms made from just two hand-formed aluminum shapes. This stunning roadster, which had no doors, made the October 1949 cover of Motor Trend magazine.
Dream Cars runs May 21-September 7 and tickets can be purchased online. Can’t make it to Atlanta this summer? Pick up the copy of the exhibit’s pictorial catalog, Dream Cars: Innovative Design, Visionary Ideas.
Planning to go? Be sure to post your pics and thoughts on the E3 Spark Plugs Facebook Fan Page.