By popular demand following the article on the Citroen AMI and also after your suggestions, I ventured into some research and delved into the world of the automobile.
Obviously to not lose myself in the sea of information out there, I focused mainly on the aesthetic point of view, with particular attention to the field of automotive design, which really intrigued me.
It may seem trivial to mention this but automotive design, together with the technical characteristics of the car has evolved over time. What I would like to do now is go through the highlights of this evolution. This is a journey starting from the 1950’s, a period in which cars became less of a luxury and more available for the masses.
I’ll give you a little preview: as you will see, it’s a series of round trips that starts with curved lines and arrives at square lines, or vice versa.
For each period, which roughly corresponds with a decade, I have chosen cars that I personally feel are representative of that period – or simply put – have taken my eye.
The 1950’s: generous and feminine curves
In this particular decade the United States dictated the main trends over the many western countries, from a cultural point and beyond. The curves of Marylin Monroe make men and women fall in love, rock’n’roll plays from the radio and the desire for change begins to be felt.
The 1960’s: boom and scenographic design
The 1960’s, we know, are the years of rebirth and economic miracles. The cinema increasingly becomes a point of reference for fashion and trends. Advertising pushes forward, Pop Art fills the gap between museums and celebrities. The dolce vita becomes synonymous with lifestyle.
Truly incredible years: for design, growth is palpable and also generally for all art forms.
The 1970’s: the beauty of contrasts
The 1970’s, compared to the previous years, you could think of them as dark years, just remember the terrorist attacks and the oil crises. Even art isn’t able to offer relief: it’s no longer for everyone, it becomes introspective and conceptual. As an example, body art and performance becomes more extreme and ephemeral.
Almost as if to compensate for this social darkness, the cars often were made with shiney chrome and bright colours: the surface area of glass increases.
In these years, also as a consequence of the energy crisis, car design becomes more rational: the lines change, they become progressively sharper and we begin to glimpse the trend that will be in the following decade. This can also be explained by the need to reduce production costs: now the key word is utility.
The 1980’s: shoulder pads and masculine lines
The trend that began in the 1970’s reaches its peak in this decade: the lines become decidedly more square and sharp, this time it seems to evoke the masculine body.
Even on the catwalk, women with decidedly wild and aggressive hairstyles, dresses with huge shoulder pads and generally oversized clothes, as if to symbolise their emancipation.
The Fiat Panda! I admit it, I couldn’t wait to get to this point in order to mention the name of Giorgetto Giugiaro, who won one of his five Compasso d’Oro in 1981, thanks to the clean and marked lines of this legendary car.
The 1990’s: sophisticated lines and technology
In these years technology has made great strides and design has become more expert and also harmonious. The lines do become softer but not quite like we saw in the 1950’s. They are more sophisticated and respectful of aerodynamics: allowing cars to be faster and consume less..
In short, in this decade we begin to see the fruit of many years of experimentation of the fashions and trends of the past years.
The decade of the year 2000: innovation and revival
The 2000’s are synonymous with bewilderment and insecurity, with terrorism and wars: the shock of 11th September – with the long term consequences of which we all know – waking everyone from a dream.
This decade – however – also means innovation. In particular, I’m thinking about the world of technology and communication. After getting through the millenium bug unscathed, extraordinary things happened. Among the many events that could be mentioned, here are some: 4th February 2004 Facebook was born, 14th February 2005 there was also Youtube and 29th June 2007 Apple launched the first model of the iPhone. From the automotive point of view, the Smart car brought an example of novelty introducing the concept of the city Microcar.
Another side of innovation is linked to environmental issues, which are beginning to become important: the response from the world of the automobile comes at the beginning of the decade with the hybrid, I’m talking about the Toyota Prius, a breakthrough with soft lines.
Innovation can also mean reanimation of old models and ideas, but updated and improved: cars appear on the market that reproduce and evoke the style of iconic cars of the past, what we could say – their grandparents!
The decade of the year 2010: strong determination
We are approaching our time and in any case a century seems to have passed!
The decade of the year 2010 is particular and full of determination. There are continuing concerns with the crisis of 2008, ISIS and terrorism, the earthquakes in Emilia Romagna and in central Italy, the resignation of the Pope, the Wikileaks scandal and lots more, it didn’t stop: it demonstrated the ability to deal with many different situations.
Speaking of cars, we could almost say that the collective energy released in dealing with these different problems is reflected in the massive spread of the SUV, which means Sport Utility Vehicle, synonymous with power and resolve but also with style.
Tomorrow is already here
Yes, today? In which direction are we headed now?
What can we say, Elon Musk surprises us once again with this totally electric and extreme design car, inspired by the film Blade Runner.
I think you understand what I’m talking about: amongst other models, I leave you with the new hyper square Tesla Cybertruck.
Well, my research into the evolution over time of the lines of the automobile ends with these cars. It’s been a long journey, with many stops, which I hope has given you inspiration and a chance to remember times gone by. Who knows how many love stories started on the seats of the cars that I have just mentioned… Let me know what you think, maybe even some personal stories, as long as it’s publishable! 🙂