Friday, July 4, 2008

Streamlined Cars of the Future


I was quoted today in the Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney, Australia) for a piece about the past and future of cars. An excerpt appears below.
In the first quarter of the 20th century, the developed world began an obsession with outer space. Comic-strip storyboards of domed futuristic cities and multilayered transport systems fired imaginations - and not just amongst children.

Our automotive pioneers were also looking forward, working to propel the newborn car - the horseless carriage - to meet a vision. And, shape-wise, it looked bubbly.

"The globule-shaped modes of transportation come from a 1930s obsession with streamlining," says Matt Novak, the founder of past-future commentary site www.paleofuture.com. "Creating streamlined modes of transportation gave the perception of efficiency and the perception that you were a part of the future was important."

See also:
What the future didn't bring
New Hampshire Public Radio (Jan, 2008)
Paleo-Future in the Wall Street Journal
Article for MungBeing
Sincerity and the Paleo-Future
Postmodern Paleo-Future

5 comments:

Alex said...

That car in the photo is actually a fairly new concept car, though obviously inspired by the streamline era. Here's more photos:
http://www.seriouswheels.com/cars/top-2005-Holden-Efijy-Concept.htm

min0taur said...

Futurism in product design can be seen as a kind of "set dressing" for the folk drama of everyday life: forward-thinking but also escapist, a sleek shell for the same old tech. The '39 World's Fair wanted to provide a setting that offered an illusion of living in the world beyond the Great Depression; fins on cars and "rocket" motifs in the '50s helped set the stage for living in the "postwar future" GIs imagined while fighting WWII. Quite aside from the Caddy fins that Life Magazine called "The Buck Rogers School of Transportation Design," actual attempts to change the tech (such as the Chrysler turbine car shown at the '64 World's Fair) tended to show up as minor stylistic changes (the taillight treatment on the '67 Chrysler 300). I wonder whether practical innovation thrives more in an economy of abundance or an economy of scarcity. Guess we're about to find out again.

phonono said...

Practical innovation does not necessarily arise in an economy of abundance.
For example, in Cambodia a kid has devised a way to use the decrepit rail system for the very poor and their merchandise.
And necessity is never the mother of invention. Otherwise dozens of inventions would come out of Africa. Very often opportunity is the mother invention, but you need a specific economic and social climate for that to arise.
A loose conglomerate of small businesses and dense cities is, historically, proven to provide many sparks of innovations.

FranSix said...

Hi, I just thought that Paleo-Future could stand to include the present future:

Jalopnik

F6

Alex said...

I still think an Efijy would be a cool car to have here in the US. Of course, it may go the way of the PT cruiser with 10 parked on every residential street.

It's styling reminds me of the cop cars in the early '90's Batman cartoon show. Retro and future, that's what this blog is about though isn't it.

I'm surprised how often Holden are overlooked in the US, still the Maloo will be entering the Pontiac range soon.