Art and the Automobile: The VW Beetle Sculptures of Ichwan Noor

James Kraus

JK - 1 (9)

Beetle Sphere, Ichwan Noor, 2015

The VW Beetle has probably appeared in more artwork than any other vehicle. In 2011, Indonesian sculptor Ichwan Noor added to the Beetle’s catalogue raisonné when he began a series of lifesize full-scale VWs transformed into to perfect spheres and cubes.   Continue reading

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The 1960s New Look

James Kraus

JK - 1 (8)

The New Look: 1960 Chevrolet Impala

In the early decades of motordom, front grills stood tall and proud, reflecting the proportions of early radiators. Headlamps, originally housed in separate housings, began being integrated into the cars design in the late 1930s. Nevertheless, grills and headlamps remained separate elements with the exception of Peugeot, which placed the headlamps near the centre of the car, behind the grill.  Continue reading

The Swinging Sixties: A Rainbow of Wheels and Technicolor Tyres

James Kraus

JK - 1 (22)

1967 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396 with Marina Blue metallic body-colour wheels and F70-14 special nylon Red Stripe Firestone Super Sports Wide Oval tyres

The majority of today’s cars today come equipped with black tyres surrounding wheels (or wheel covers) of silver, grey or black. This was not always the case; brightly coloured wheels were a common automotive styling fillip beginning with the 1886 Benz Patent-Motorwagen.   Continue reading

The People’s Car. Then and Now.

James Kraus

JK - 1 (49)

Wolfsburg Crest, 1962 Volkswagen

On Sunday, the Auto Universum Board of Governors attended the Greystone Mansion Concours d’Elegance in Beverly Hills. This grand affair entailed a $120 admittance fee and boasted a splendid field including a Ferrari 250 SWB, a pair of 300 SLs, a Porsche 356 America Roadster, Alfa 6C 2500, Bugatti Type 57, 1930 V16 Cadillac and many other pedigreed swells.   Continue reading

1960s: The Ascent of Black

James Kraus

JK - 1 (49)

1965 Chevrolet Impala with black Super Sport rear deco trim

The latter half of the 1950s was a jubilant, optimistic era when life was comfortable and the future looked bright. In Britain, post-war food rationing was lifted, France was in the midst of Les Trente Glorieuses and Germany was celebrating Wirtschaftswunder. In the U.S., Wall Street, Madison Avenue, Abstract Expressionism, Modernist architecture and Cool Jazz made New York the global focal point of both art and commerce.   Continue reading

The Corvair Line: Styling Sensation Of The 1960s

by James Kraus

JK - 1 (58)

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

Image from the Past

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40 years ago Volkswagen celebrated Germany’s 1974 World Cup victory by providing members of the winning team with special commemorative VW cabriolets. The public could not buy them, but they could purchase a limited number of sedan versions. The VW 1303 World Cup Weltmeister was available in four special colours with satin black front and rear deck lids borrowed from the 1303 GSR. All the team cars and most of the civilian versions were finished in the Cliff Green shown here. The Weltmeister came with a football-like gearshift knob, a concept Volkswagen would revisit a few years later when they equipped the Golf GTI with a golf ball-styled shift knob, a feature still retained in the current model.

The Cars of James Bond: Volkswagen 1300

by James Kraus

JK - 1 (50)

Agent Shaun Campbell climbs the Alps in a VW 1300 shadowing James Bond in a clandestine visit to the headquarters of Ernst Stavro Blofeld

Although one of the most popular and iconic cars of the 1960s, the Volkswagen Beetle did not play a role in a James Bond film until the very end of the decade. In 1969, a VW 1300 is driven in Switzerland by agent Shaun Campbell, Bond’s MI6 backup, in the sixth movie of the series; On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The Volkswagen is used to trail Bond through the Bernese Oberland en route to Blofeld’s Allergy Clinic. The discreet VW was a wise choice as covert Alpine transport with its generous ground clearance, carefree air-cooling system and rear-engine traction. Although not provided for product placement by Volkswagenwerk AG, the Beetle used was nonetheless the very latest model.  Continue reading