It’s said that “form follows function, but both report to emotion.” This statement could not be more appropriate in describing the automobile. One auction (turned exhibit), “Art of the Automobile,” presented by RM Auctions, celebrates the masters of vehicular design and the marks they’ve made on its history. Featuring over 30 cars, it’s on show at New York’s Sotheby’s galleries and is the first high-profile automotive auction that the city has seen in over a decade. To me, there’re many reasons why “Art of the Automobile” already stands out as one of the must-see exhibits to check out in NYC this year.
When it comes to design, few other industries employ it so critically as the motor vehicle industry. Design is fundamental to the creation of these machines—distinguishing brands and establishing their values. Car manufacturers quickly understood the importance to well-thought creation, leading to a long history of stellar vehicular design. Playing two roles, the design of a vehicle strengthens (if not carries) a brand. It’s why your head turns when certain vehicles zoom by or how some brands garner a devote following.
But, aesthetic must strike a balance with function—after all, cars have to drive. It’s a marriage that has led to years and years of boundary-breaking designs. “Art of the Automobile” is an occasion that seeks to praise this sentiment and put it on display for the public to appreciate.
“Art of the Automobile” will present an exceptional collection of the most enduring models from a variety of motoring eras. From classic cars to the world’s fastest autos, RM Auctions and Sotheby’s (famous for their renowned car shows and auctions) have hand-picked every vehicle on show to highlight the purity of form found in the very best machines. To pique interest and make you all as excited as myself, I thought it’d be neat to take a closer look at some of the beautiful machines to be on offer:
1964 Ferrari 250 LM by Carrozzeria Scaglietti
The 250 LM is a time capsule that’s being publicly seen for the first time in decades. An operatic masterpiece of both color and sound, it’s a timeless piece of Italian design by Carrozzeria Scaglietti. It’s not uncommon to judge a car’s beauty by the speeds it can reach. By that qualifier alone, the 250 LM is the epitome of design perfection. It’s a purebred racing machine that stirs the soul and enlivens the senses of the spectator (imagine what it does for the driver).
This vehicle carries quite the legacy, being the last Ferrari to win the grueling 24-hour race at Le Mans. As far as design is concerned, the defining decision on Scaglietti’s part is the use of a mid-engined configuration, which allowed the bodywork to be wrapped around the chassis, lending to it’s iconic look. The car is low, sleek, and menacing. It’s the perfect example of automotive designers wedding function to beauty.
1955 Lincoln Indianapolis Exclusive Study by Carrozzeria Boano Torino
The 1950’s were an important time for automotive design. The Atlantic’s boundaries dissolved as American designers began travelling to observe the Europeans building cars, while European designers were going the other way to acquire American-built chassises. One of the most important surviving designs to emerge from these times was Boano’s Lincoln.
Boano’s design was heavily influenced by aircrafts, featuring a rounded centre-section that tapered at each end between pontoon-like outer wings. It’s a futuristic automotive masterpiece that pushed the limits of engineering and ushered in a new era of motor vehicle.
1957 F.B. Mondial 250 Bialbero Grand Prix
The show features a bevy of beautiful two-wheeled creations too. One of those is the Mondial 250, an exemplary post-war motorcycle design. Displaying speed, beauty, and ingenuity, it stands out from the crowd. Towards the 1960’s, larger audiences were being pulled to the motorcycle circuit—engines were getting louder, machines faster, and creativity blossomed. For much of this time, the Mondial 250 reigned supreme, embodying all of the aforementioned characteristics.
While a piece of stunning mechanical design under the hood, the 250’s legend lies within its undeniable aesthetic presence. The silver armour of the fairings served more than protection; it provided an aerodynamic advantage. While many companies were experimenting with wind-cheating bodies, few did it with the elegance and grace of the Mondial 250.
I was schooled long ago to always seek inspiration in the variety of galleries, museums, and exhibitions that you can seek. It’s an obvious tip, but perhaps undervalued. The rush of inspiration that strikes after exploring events such as the “Art of the Automobile” is priceless. Even when you think something might not hold relevance to your interests, do not underestimate the impact it might yet possess. This event serves as a testament to such a belief. I’m sure the designs of the vehicles on offer will lend a creative lesson or two, perhaps even an idea. At the very least, I’ll be inspired to push for better, as the designers of these cars continually strived to do so.
“Art of the Automobile” will be on show from November 18th to the 21st at Sotheby’s Manhattan galleries and salesroom. If you can, be sure to drop by during the exhibition hours for a peek at all the fantastic designs on display. I’m certain you won’t regret it.