The Heyday of Cursive Script

by James Kraus

1964 Porsche 904 Carrera GTS. A masterwork in
the annals of badging: cursive lettering, gold-plating,
diagonal orientation, 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, Ford, Lamborghini, Maserati and Porsche. Outside this quintet 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.

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The Cars of James Bond: Sunbeam Alpine

by James Kraus

Lake Blue Alpine in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica

The Sunbeam Alpine featured in the film Dr. No is significant to Bond aficionados because it is the first time audiences see Bond driving his “own” (although portrayed as a hire-car) vehicle, as opposed to a car commandeered from a foe.

Bond drives the car in Jamaica in order to rendezvous with the enigmatic Miss Taro at her Magenta Drive residence in the Blue Mountains above Kingston, whereupon she becomes Bond’s first cinematic feminine conquest. On the way, Bond is pursued without success by Dr. No’s henchmen.

Later that night he drives the Sunbeam down to the shore to meet up with Quarrel and Felix for a clandestine boat trip to Crab Key.

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