Auto Universum is a non-profit enterprise dedicated to documenting the design and engineering of cars of the mid-20th Century; concentrating on the period from 1960 to 1967, the very pinnacle of the Jet Age.

1963 Buick Riviera in Glacier Blue.

Auto Universum celebrates and endeavors to record the distinguished, noteworthy, aspirational and occasionally joyously idiosyncratic cars that everyday people drove to work, to restaurants and bars, to beaches, bowling alleys and country clubs in the halcyon days of the 1960s; that oasis of elegance sandwiched between the flamboyant excesses of the 1950s and the decadence and malaise of the 1970s.

1967 Volkswagen 1500 Beetle in Java Green.

It was 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, or in the middle. NSU and Mazda began selling rotary-engined vehicles, and Chrysler produced fifty turbine-powered automobiles.

Chrysler Turbine Car.

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.

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.

Auto Universum is published by financier, cookbook author, raconteur and sixtiesologist James Kraus from Jet Age Media global headquarters high atop the Sunset Strip.

Having a go at the ADAC Eifel Historic Rallye; Daun, Germany, 2002
Yours truly readying for the premier
stage of the ADAC Eifel Historic Rallye;
Daun, Germany.

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