About

Auto Universum is written for the intellectually curious connoisseur with an appreciation for mid-20th Century automotive design and engineering. The Jet Age Motoring appellation reflects a concentration on the decade of the 1960s, with forays into the 1950s and early 1970s.

The 1960s 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 could be found in the front or in the rear, and for the first time since the dawn of motoring; in the middle, just forward of the rear axle.

Heyday of the aft-mounted motor: VW 1300, VW Type 34 Karmann Ghia and Porsche 2.0 911S Tagra. Düsseldorf, 1969.

NSU and Mazda began selling rotary-engined vehicles, and Chrysler produced fifty turbine-powered automobiles.

NSU Wankel Spider

The last significant improvements in basic vehicle dynamics, the disc brake and radial tyre, both earlier developments, became widespread in the 1960s. 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 periods.

Fiat 600D

Auto Universum focuses on the brilliant, the intriguing and occasionally idiosyncratic designs of this period. Here, a Fiat 600 and Lamborghini Miura are equally fascinating: both bold, creative designs for their time; brilliantly conceived for a specific purpose by masters of their craft.

The 1960s, besides being a high point of automotive design, was a high-water mark of design in general.

Palace of the Dawn (President’s Residence) by Oscar Niemeyer, Brasilia, 1960

While not as fertile as the 1950s, the ‘60s 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.)

Ribbon Chair by Pierre Paulin for Artifort, 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.

Series I E-Type Jaguar enters the underground lair of Diabolik in the 1968 film “Danger: Diabolik.” Art Direction by Flavio Mogherini

Even people were stylish. The 1960s was the last decade people put an effort, no matter the occasion, into appearing polished and dignified.

Style of the times: Ferrari Technical Department Chief Mauro Forghieri and Commendatore Enzo Ferrari at the Gran Premio d’Italia, Monza, 1967

Finally, it would be the last decade that women were still constructed of all natural material.

Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder in “Dr. No,” the first James Bond film. No artificial ingredients.

Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder in “Dr. No,” the first James Bond film, 1962. No artificial ingredients.

Auto Universum is published by automotive aficionado, financier, cookbook author, raconteur and sixtiesologist James M. Kraus.

Having a go at the ADAC Eifel Historic Rallye; Daun, Germany, 2002

Your publisher readies for the premier stage of the ADAC Eifel Historic Rallye; Daun, Germany

One thought on “About

  1. I understand the fascination of the 60s though I feel the architecture turned out to be a serious failure. The finest work is an exception but when modernism was applied to vernacular buildings, the ordinary back-drop of life, it produced dismal results especially when allied to the current principles of town planning. Nobody likes these places much, not unless they are unusually well-planted and maintained. The 60s were essentially suburban.

    You have a fine blog here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s