Auto Universum is aimed at the mature, discerning automobiliste. The subtitle Jet Age Motoring is a reflection of Auto Universum’s concentration on the decade of the 1960’s, with forays into the 1950’s and early 1970’s. Occasional commentary on contemporary motoring sometimes occurs, usually regarding the increasing triumph of stylized fashion over elegant and functional design.
The 1960’s were the halcyon days of diverse design and unfettered motoring. There was a wide variety of powerplants: four-stroke, two-stroke, water-cooled and air-cooled. Engines were located in the front or in the rear, and for the first time, in the middle.
NSU and Mazda began selling rotary-engined vehicles, and Chrysler produced fifty turbine-powered automobiles.
The last significant improvements in basic vehicle dynamics, the disc brake and radial tyre, both earlier developments, became widespread in the 1960’s. By the end of the decade, fuel injection was becoming fairly commonplace. Traffic density (at least through the middle of the decade) was low enough to make driving and parking much more enjoyable than in later years.
I focus on the great, the intriguing and occasionally idiosyncratic designs of this period. I find for example, a Fiat 600 and a Lamborghini Miura equally fascinating: both bold, creative designs for their time; brilliantly conceived for a specific purpose by masters of their craft.
The 1960’s, besides being a high point of automotive design, was a high-water mark of design in general.
While not as fertile as the 1950’s, the ‘60’s still produced some classical furniture designs timeless enough to remain in production until this day, including the Castiglione Brother’s Toio, Taccia and Arco lamps (1962,) Eero Aarnio’s Ball Chair (1965,) and Pierre Paulin’s Ribbon Chair (1966.)
In cinema, it is hard to top the futuristic allure expressed in the lairs of James Bond’s many villains created by set designer Ken Adam, Piero Poletto’s sets in The 10th Victim or Flavio Mogherini’s hideaway of Diabolik.
Even people were stylish. The 1960’s was the last decade people put an effort, no matter the occasion, into appearing polished and dignified.
Finally, it was the last time women were still constructed chiefly of 100% natural material.