The story of British car streamline styling, identifying the influence Art Deco has had on automotive design.
Barrie Down has had a fascination with cars from as early as he can remember, and his childhood drawings were almost exclusively cars, cars, and more cars. Those he owned as an impecunious bachelor were from the 1920s and '30s, from which he gained a healthy respect for the design and quality of vintage and thoroughbred cars. After emigrating to Canada in 1964, he spent over 20 years in the industrial design field, concerned primarily with transportation design. From his art historian wife, he learned to link design and social history, and discovered that the design of the cars he loved were strongly influenced by Art Deco.
"We think of the French as producing the most strikingly streamlined cars of the 1930s, in lyric teardrop bodies hammered out with doses of Italian style and German science. But this book reminds us that streamline design was the rage among car buffs everywhere in the '30s, even in upright, country-house, Evelyn Waugh Britain. Mr. Down reminds us that at the same time streamline cars were going on the market, ocean liners and trains were being streamlined, the better to compete with the nascent airline industry. His book also reminds us that the automobile industry of the time in Britain had yet to embrace mass production. Cars were sold to the few, and the sellers were coachbuilders as much as chassis or engine makers. To compete, each British car company had to offer a version of the season's fashionable cut, and so each one presented an airline or streamline body or two. The resulting cars are rare, with wonderful names like the Triumph Gloria Flow-Free and the Riley Kestrel. Many of these companies would not survive. But there are also glimpses of the future. We meet the young William Lyons, who impressed a man named William Walmsley. Together, their Swallow Sidecar company moved from teardrop add-ons for motorcycles to aero bodies for popular auto chassis. Swallow became Jaguar, of course, and two decades later produced more serious streamlining, driven by aerodynamics and racing." - New York Times "This vibrant work features a good mix of period and modern photos. Fans of streamlining will enjoy this fresh perspective on pre-war British car styling." - Classic & Sports Car "It's a fascinating read, which also feature photos of the cars that have survived to this day (many of which haven't been published until now)." - Classic Car Buyer "Here's a delightful book that could fill a gap both on your bookshelf. In the first part, author Barrie Down explains the Art Deco movement and how it combined with streamlining in the 1930s to produce some of the century's