You buy a car only when you like the
way it looks. That means very simply that styling sells
a fact of life in the marketplace that automakers
learned almost as quickly as they discovered ways to
make cars reliable and friendly.
And yet no book has ever discussed the history of automotive
styling as an artform and commercial stimulant
in anything approaching a serious, thoughtful
way. This volume tries to fill that void.
Lamm and Holls take you back 100 years and explain how
the look of motorcars evolved from ships, carriages
and bicycles to being inspired by airplanes and rocketships.
They discover how Americans became more style conscious
earlier than anyone ever suspected. They talk about
the industry not just in terms of hardware and processes
and aesthetics all of which they do discuss
but also as a close-knit society of artisans, artists
and promoters whose skills went far beyond the shaping
of motorized objects. These men and women became the
trendsetters of American industry; the strong personalities
who helped put America on wheels.
This book can serve as a reference work for anyone with
informed curiousity about auto design; it can provide
enjoyment to those who simply love cars and the way
cars look; it can be viewed as a social register that
explains the people who made the industry what it is
today; and it's also a guide to the nut-and-bolt basics
of car design for those who've yearned to become a part
of the business and who've wondered what goes on behind
locked studio doors.
Introduction to the book
By authors: Michael Lamm & Dave Holls
There is now no question, 100 years after the beginning,
that the art and science of automotive styling
what today we call automobile design has had
a tremendous impact on this nation's economy. To understand
the dollar importance of styling ignoring aesthetics
for the moment think first about all the money
that's been pumped through the American economy during
the past century just by the sale of new automobiles.
It's staggering. The total runs well beyond the limits
of ordinary imagination; far beyond what now constitutes
the $3.5 trillion national deficit.
Consider further, over the span of those same 100 years,
how many times the individual sale of each automobile
must have been prompted by the way it looked: its first
impression in the showroom, its lasting image, how the
new owner saw himself or herself driving and owning
that particular make and model. Survey after survey
has shown that styling outranks all other considerations
as the prime motivator of most new-car purchase decisions.
Styling began to take on fiscal importance as early
as 1901 long before the motorcar had an established
shape or enough mechanical reliability to be trusted
as a fairly friendly contraption. Even at that primitive
stage of the motorcar's development, the wealthy turn-of-the-century
car buyer thought carefully about how his newest toy
might look in the family driveway, how it complemented
his personality, how it fit his status in the community
and business, and whether it matched his other possessions
Styling, that one simple and complex factor the
overall shape, ornamentation and resulting aura of any
automobile has moved so much money through the
national economy that the wonder isn't its longterm
financial effect but rather the question: Why has so
vital and pervasive a topic as automobile design never
been examined as the history of a commercial or industrial
artform? Isn't it every bit as much a national treasure
as those commercial arts that have been so thoroughly
scrutinized: architecture, furniture and interior design,
clothing fashion, textiles, jewelry, ceramics, etc.
Too little has been written about the value of automotive
styling, either from an economic or a marketing or an
aesthetic or an evolutionary viewpoint. That oversight
in itself comes as a something of a shock. It's an oversight
we hope to remedy in some small measure with this book.
Century of Automotive Style (DVD)
Now available on DVD! This new disk contains
the original book in its entirety: 308 pages,
more than 900 photos, complete text, captions,
sidebars and index. Nothings left out. The
disc is fully searchable and very easy to use.
And the DVD remains the 'book' of choice for everyone
interested or involved in car design. Authored
by Michael Lamm and Dave Holls, its a 100-year
history that explains why cars looked and
look the way they do, who designed what,
and why. The original hardcover book was voted
'must have' by major enthusiast magazines in the
U.S. and Europe. The book also won the Society
of Automotive Historians prestigious Cugnot
Award. The book is now out of print, but you can
enjoy the DVD as one of the worlds best
automotive reads and then keep it in your library
for handy longterm reference.
Retail price of the Century of Automotive Style
DVD is $24.95 (Free shipping). To order, send
a check or money order to:
9428 Hickory Av.
Stockton CA 95212
Calif. residents please add $2.24 sales tax.