American appliance manufactures began upgrading and stylizing their wares in the 1950s to add Jet Age glamour to the heretofore humble workhorses of the household. The movement gained extra momentum in 1953 when Frigidaire introduced the first popular-priced appliances available in colour finishes. As an alternative to traditional white, buyers could now opt for Stratford Yellow or Sherwood Green. Other manufacturers responded with their own special palettes, and in short order all major kitchen appliances were being produced in a rainbow of colour from pastel pink to charcoal grey.
Pau Grand Prix, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, France, 1962
Auto Universum continues its decade-long 50th Anniversary of the Sixties series with a look back at 1962.
If you missed seeing Maurice Trintignant claim the chequered flag at the Grand Prix de Pau on Easter Sunday fifty years ago, you still had the chance to witness plenty of exciting automobile introductions, architectural presentations, product unveilings and cultural events that took place throughout the year.
Lord Brett Sinclair’s Bahama Yellow Aston Martin DBS in “The Persuaders!”
Ancient wisdom once held that in the vintage car market, red, white and black were the best colours for resale. However, as Bob Dylan once declared; The times they are a-changin’.
Early Porsche 911 collectors for example often seek out and pay a premium for the colours that made those cars unique to their time period: Signal Orange, Viper Green, Aubergine, Tangerine; even the more esoteric shades of Olive and Golden Green.
1964 Porsche 904 Carrera GTS. A masterwork in the annals of badging: cursive lettering, gold-anodised finish, canted 45-degrees, and unique placement flowing over the curved transition from rear deck to rear quarter panel
Free-flowing cursive script is not often seen on automobiles today. It still survives at Alfa Romeo, Lamborghini, Maserati and Porsche. Outside this quartet it is rare indeed. In days past, cursive was common throughout the industry.
Such longhand script was often utilized to enable casting a complete badge out of a single piece of metal. The alternative was to either run block letters together, or connect individual block characters with a bar across the top (à la Ferrari,) a bar at the bottom (typified by BMW and Mercedes-Benz) or through the centre in the style of Alfa Romeo.
Pre-war cars used cursive scripting almost exclusively, although badging itself was generally minimal or nonexistent. In the 1900’s manufacturer nameplates were usually affixed only to the front of the radiator, and model designations were not displayed. In the thirties, even this practice declined, with most vehicles displaying the manufacturer’s name only via a stylized logo atop the radiator shell. After the war, marque and model badging began proliferating and begat its own art form.
1961 Porsche poster celebrating competition victories of the prior season
By 1961 the last vestiges of the fifties were ebbing and the currents of the sixties starting to more strongly assert themselves. The second year of the decade witnessed the first manned space flight, construction of the Berlin Wall and the first season of The Avengers.
It was a banner year for British sports car enthusiasts. Jaguar unleashed its dramatic new feline, the ‘E’ Type, dubbing it The Most Advanced Sports Car in the World.
Citroën DS in Vert Printemps (Spring Green) with Champagne (Ivory) roof
Citroën dropped a bombshell when it unveiled the DS 19 at the Paris Salon in October of 1955. It was so futuristic in style that it appeared to have beamed-in from another planet. Even better, the car had the technical specification that fully justified the space-age exterior: self-leveling hydropneumatic suspension, adjustable ride-height, disc brakes, radial tires, powered steering, brakes, clutch and gearchange, aluminium and fibreglass body panels and active load-proportional braking. Never before or since has a new car been introduced with such an advanced specification and so many new technical innovations.
Apparently, Citroën wished to further advance the futuristic aura of the new DS via an advanced, fashion-forward colour palette.
Ford is not the oldest automotive manufacturer, being predated by Peugeot, Daimler, Benz (separate companies at the time) and Fiat. It was however, the first mass-market producer. The origin of their current script logo dates back to the days of the Model T, and the characteristic blue oval background arrived with the debut of the Model A in 1927.
Despite the recognizability and brand equity inherent in the traditional Ford script in its blue oval, its use lasted but a decade. The blue oval was dropped after 1936, and the classic Ford script was unceremoniously scrapped in 1948.
Heading for the biergarten in a new Ford Taunus 17M
Fifty years ago, the decade that epitomized Jet Age glamour and Space Age sophistication officially began. Automotive engineers and designers were adamant not to be left behind. They toiled over their drafting boards and clay models to create products that would appeal to motorists craving designs that projected a clear expression of the exciting possibilities of the new fast-paced decade of jet travel, satellite communications and space exploration. Continue reading →
Umberto Maglioli and Vic Elford savor their victory at the 52nd Targa Florio, 1968. Photo: Vic Elford Collection
Many manufacturers offer polo shirts these days, but they are all knock-offs; all but one, that is. The one true authentic original short-sleeve mesh polo shirt is the Lacoste Classic Piqué L1212 Polo. It’s been around for 77 years.
It was invented by René Lacoste, a French tennis champion who twice triumphed at Wimbledon, won the U.S. Open on two occasions and thrice took victory laurels at the French Open. He was ranked Number One Player in 1926 and 1927.
1966 MG 1100 Saloon in Glen Green over Pale Primrose. A distinctive (and distinctly British) combination.
In response to my November article on the rich history of automotive colouration in comparison to the monotonous and uninspiring colour combinations most often seen today (centering almost exclusively on black, grey and beige), I received a number of photos from owners of quite distinctive vehicles that took a stand in the battle against chromatic mediocrity. I am sharing the best of them with followers of Auto Universum in the hopes that they will offer inspiration to others.