Clear Tail Lamps: The Height of Automotive Fashion… Fifty Years Ago

James Kraus

1965 Cadillac Calais

1965 Cadillac Calais

Clear tail lights are quite popular today and appear on several new models as standard or optional equipment from the Toyota Prius to the Porsche 911 and Aston Martin Vantage. Many people mistakenly believe they were introduced in 1998 with the debut of the Toyota Altezza (Lexus IS) although the Toyota actually only had conventional tail lamps covered by clear acrylic; the design did not conceal the underlying red filter lenses. Clear tail lamps, like so many automotive technologies, actually first surfaced in the 1960s. Many of them were more sophisticated than some recent examples.   Continue reading

The Corvair Line: Styling Sensation Of The 1960s

by James Kraus

Chevrolet Corvair 700 Sedan

Chevrolet Corvair 700 Sedan

The Corvair Line is an accent line that circumnavigates the entire vehicle, front, sides and back, visually dividing the body into upper and lower sections. It can rise and fall, curve and bend, but must be unbroken, with neither beginning nor end.   Continue reading

The Cars of James Bond: Aston Martin DBS

by James Kraus

Bond's Aston parked at the Hotel Palácio, Estoril, Portugal

Bond’s Aston parked at the Hotel Palácio, Estoril, Portugal

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service presented quite a challenge to loyal Bond moviegoers. Not only was Sean Connery replaced, so was the legendary Aston Martin of Goldfinger and Thunderball; the M-enhanced DB5 incorporating the “usual refinements” that had become integral to Bond mythology. In its place was a new Aston, the DBS.  Continue reading

Jet Age Design: The Clairtone Project G

by James Kraus

Clairtone Project G, 1964

Clairtone Project G, 1964

In the 1960s, dedicated audiophiles listened to their music through a system of separate components. Most others enjoyed listening via the recent invention of the Console Hi-Fi, also known in the UK as a Radiogram. These furniture-like units usually incorporated a tuner, turntable, an integrated preamp, and amplifier together with a set of speakers. The first of these were monaural, but by the early sixties, most were stereophonic. Some even included a television, making them an early form of entertainment center.   Continue reading

1964: Britain Conquers the Globe

by James Kraus

Goldfinger

Goldfinger, Guy Hamilton, 1964

In 1964 the British Isles became the centre of popular culture. Beatlemania assumed international proportions with the band’s successful invasion of the United States and the release of A Hard Day’s Night. Meanwhile, cinematic MI6 Agent James Bond cemented his status as the free world’s favorite undercover operative with the debut of Goldfinger. The Rover 2000 won European Car of the Year and the Morris Mini Cooper secured its premier victory at the Rallye Monte-Carlo, the storied event with which it would become inexorably linked. Last but not least, another sort of British mini exploded into worldwide popularity and acclaim: the miniskirt.   Continue reading

Jet Smooth Jet Age Advertising from Motown Mad Man Jim Bernardin

by James Kraus

Jim Bernardin in his office at Campbell-Ewald, Detroit, Michigan, 1963

Jim Bernardin in his office at Campbell-Ewald, Detroit, Michigan, 1963

Chevrolet was America’s perennial top seller of automobiles in the 1960s. To maintain that dominance they wielded an appropriately massive merchandising war chest. GM was the world’s largest advertiser with an annual budget of nearly US$2 Billion in today’s dollars.

A significant slice of that expenditure went into the coffers of Campbell-Ewald, Chevrolets’ ad agency since 1919. In 1962 the agency promoted Jim Bernardin to Creative Director for the highly coveted Chevrolet account.  Continue reading