In the late 1940's and early 50's, post war Europe saw a shortage in manufacturing materials. The devastating war also left consumers and companies strapped for cash and the need to economize. To answer the call for new vehicles, auto makers developed the micro car. Billed as a low - cost, efficient family car, these autos saved the big car companies from going out - of - business and gave much needed jobs to soldiers and civilians rebuilding their communities.
Preston Tucker built the world's safest car, with revolutionary new technology that promised to turn the automotive industry upside down. The Tucker featured a rear mounted engine, a padded dash, and a Cyclops Eye (a movable center third headlight) among other innovations. But corporate fear and government interference crushed the dream and only 51 Tucker cars were built. Today, they are the holy grail of classic car collecting.
In the 1950s native Mainer, Rod Williams began a career in Detroit as a stylist for Ford and Chrysler. Rod's never-before-seen concept car illustrations for icons like the Thunderbird, Fairlane and Chrysler 300 and New Yorker exemplify the "Golden Age" of design.
Surf culture swelled to new heights in the 1960's the west coast. With new relaxed social norms and a cultural move back to nature, people flocked to the shores with friends and family in larger utilitarian vehicles. These now iconic autos, like the Volkswagen bus and the American Woodie defined the sport and the generation.
In the early 20th century the motorcar took the reins from the horse and carriage for the summertime tradition of high societies, grand tour of Europe's best cities and scenic locales. These autos made for easier and faster travel for the European elite. The touring car has become a symbol of status and elegance. Early makers created bespoke, coach built models to cater to every need of the motoring tourist. In later years, luxury manufacturers implored speed and sleek features to entice buyers. Automotive greats like Alfa Romeo, Bentley, Jaguar, Aston Martin, Mercedes Benz, Porsche and Ferrari dominated this opulent category of models in the last century, and continue to do so today.
1960s Europe was a hot bed of social progress that informed a new daring lifestyle. This attitude shift dramatically changed fashion, architecture and automotive design forever. The new groovy style created a desire for a small, sporty leisure cars. Big names like, Fiat, Triumph and Sunbeam developed their fastest most innovative models to date. These chic affordable autos brought class to a whole new population of buyers ushering in a new market.
The automobile and the moving picture were developed almost simultaneously. Both innovations forever changing our lifestyles, the way we work and consume products. In the early 20th century the movie car was born. These autos would often define a film. Cars were seen as characters themselves and became a symbiotic marketing tool for both the auto industry and the film industry.
America's automotive market was bustling with makers in the pre-war and post-war era. In the 1950's and 60's the "Three Big" car companies, Ford, General Motors and Daimler Chrysler emerged victorious as the leaders. This battle left many smaller start up companies scrambling for the attention of buyers, thus producing some of the most innovative models to date, cementing iconic brands like, Crosley, Edsel, Kaiser, Packard, Studebaker and Auburn-Cord-Dusenberg. American ingenuity is on display with these forgotten brands. Although the companies no longer exist, we still celebrate their style and innovation.
Maine owned models have a rich history of innovative usage, stemming from our geographic location and climate. These three models showcase the diversity of needs of Mainers in the early 20th century.