Car People

When I was a kid, I was really into cars, which was good because "not being into cars" was not an option for young men. It was one of several subjects - hockey, airplanes, football, war - where one was expected to be literate and where one social status could be very "positively impacted" by having the model numbers, performance statistics and other such arcane knowledge at one fingertips.

Car Art played an important role in creating interest and even enthusiasm for cars as something to know about for me. The artists who created the images in the ads were very good. The draftsmanship, lighting and colours seem even more amazing to me now, when so much visual art is clearly created by people whose drawing skills are more modest.

There's a tendency to think of the late 40s to early 60s as very conservative times, with an emphasis on conformity...but these cars look like they were factory pimped- strong lines and curves, two tones and chrome for days. The level of detailing seems almost baroque by todays' standards.

Even cars that may have been relatively uncool still could and often did look good. They would also have unique features, depending on the model, the year and manufacturer which made them more substantial as a brand.

 Do your seats
turn out?


Can they change colour
to suit the occasion?

Looking at these images now, one of
the things I notice more consciously is how happy everyone seems to be. It's not surprising that the owners would be portrayed that way, I suppose, but the people observing the owners don't show a trace of resentment or envy. Happy days indeed.

And yet at the same time in America, Hollywood films were being made that would later be called cinema noir. They were dark (duh) in both lighting and world view, a perspective that reflected a healthy emotional response to seeing the sleaze beneath this veneer of nice and happy. 
Which is probably why one of the other things I wonder about about these images now is the stories they might be telling... 


Like why does
the kid in the
middle get a whole seat to himself while the ones in the back have to share?

Why does one woman have a white bathing suit on and the other has a black one? What's with this parking the car right beside the swimming pool? Where are the kids? Who is married to who here?

Who is the bartender looking at while he's pouring? Is the guy driving the car a mutant? It looks like his arms would go down to his knees? Why does the barbecue look like a nuclear reactor? Is that kid polishing off somebody's cocktail? How many has he had?

Sometimes happiness is an illusion. 
Sometimes it's a moment. 
Sometimes it's a dream...


Stumble Upon Toolbar

No comments: