Art Deco was an influential style during the 1920s and 1930s, but styles change and evolve, so Art Deco cars didn't stick around forever. Styling moved away from the glamorous and gregarious and towards more conservative designs as the decades went on. As for the cars themselves, they have become incredibly rare today; after all, many of the Bugattis and Delahayes were made in limited numbers in their heyday. Also, many of the vehicles and their manufacturers did not survive World War II.
Today, cars from that era can command extremely high premiums at auctions if they're confirmed to be the real thing and are in excellent shape. In 2008, a 1937 Bugatti 57SC went for nearly $8 million at auction.
Many of the surviving cars from the Art Deco era now call museums home. One of the premier museums is the Mullin Automotive Museum, whose mission is to celebrate the French cars of the 1930s. The collection was assembled by Peter Mullin, a Los Angeles businessman, and features some of the cars and motorcycles owned by former Los Angeles Times publisher and auto enthusiast Otis Chandler.
Mullin's museum, located in Oxnard, Calif., includes a 1934 Voisin C27 Grand Sport Cabriolet once owned by the Shah of Persia, a restored 1938 Delahaye 165 convertible and a gorgeous burgundy 1938 Talbot-Lago T150C SS Speciale Teardrop Coupe.
In some ways, forms of Art Deco styling exist today. The Bugatti Veyron supercar has the curves and eye-catching design of its predecessors, but those details are mainly there to help the car achieve 200-mile per hour (321.9-kilometer per hour) speeds.
In addition, recent cars like the Chrysler PT Cruiser have styling cues that harken back to the Art Deco years. They aren't nearly extravagant as those cars, however. The era of opulence responsible for the vehicles that left the factories of Delahaye and Panhard is likely gone forever.
For more information about art deco cars and other related topics, follow the links below.
More Great Links
- Art Deco and Modernism Society. "What is Art Deco?" (March 10, 2011)http://www.artdeco.org.au/artdeco_pages/artdeco_whatis.html
- Furniture Styles. "French Art Deco Furniture." (March 10, 2011)http://www.furniturestyles.net/european/french/art-deco.html
- Garrett, Jerry. "A California Museum Celebrating French Art Deco Cars." The New York Times. April 21, 2010. (March 10, 2011)http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/21/in-california-a-new-museum-to-celebrate-french-cars-of-the-art-deco-era/
- Louisville Art Deco. "Car designs shift to streamlining." (March 10, 2011)http://www.louisvilleartdeco.com/feature/Transportation/Cars/Cars-index.html
- Luxury Insider. "From Supercar to Dream Car: The Fine Art of Coachbuilding." (March 11, 2011)http://www.luxury-insider.com/features/2007/the-fine-art-of-coachbuilding/
- Mullin Automotive Museum. "The Collection." (March 11, 2011)http://www.mullinautomotivemuseum.com/the-collection.html
- Oaktown Art. "What is Art Deco?" (March 10, 2011)http://oaktownart.com/2010/03/08/what-is-art-deco/