Book Review: Automobile Design Graphics

Book Review: Automobile Design Graphics

Here’s a large format coffee table book of car brochures, packed with 367 pages of photos, illustrations and graphics that you’ll find yourself thumbing through for hours upon hours. Produced by the global publishing group Taschen, the minimal text is printed in German, English, and French, but the images do all the talking quite well. Taschen is best known for creating the absolute finest art and photography collections, and ‘Automobile Design Graphics: A Visual History from the Golden Age to the Gas Crisis 1900- 1973′, is no exception.

Official description says:

From the most obscure (Tucker, Ajax, Columbia) to the most iconic (General Motors, Ford, Chrysler), this unprecedented visual history brings together over 500 reproductions from rare and collectible brochures–only available from the car dealer. Over 80 years, they present the finest cars and the best illustration and graphic design of the 20th century. Ancillary examples include elaborate dealer manuals, alongside essays by automobile and cultural historian Jim Donnelly and America’s preeminent design historian, Steven Heller.

A testament to a bygone era when cars were, quite simply, the stuff dreams were made of, this book is visual and informative pleasure for car enthusiasts, designers, and pop culture aficionados alike.

For car manufacturers, marketing one of the major purchases in the life of any American was an exacting process that involved not only traditional advertising but also a crucial item that extolled the virtues of the cars: the brochure. Often oversize and sumptuously produced, including acetate overlays with fabric and paint swatches, brochures today are unique specimens of antique and vintage cars.

Frequently overlooked in design and automotive histories, this piece of ephemera is a surprisingly lucid mirror image of American tastes, consumerism, and buying habits since the dawn of the automobile. Automobile Design Graphics presents for the first time a comprehensive overview of this mostly forgotten breed of collateral advertising.

A gorgeous book on a subject perhaps never before addressed with this much high quality and scarce artwork and illustration, itself representing the best work over the decades of romanticizing the dream automobiles.


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