For the Love of Cars, Art Deco, Technology and Design

Like many teenagers I started taking driving lessons as soon as I could but it became clear to me that because of my disabilities I would not be a safe driver. I gave it up. It was a difficult decision because I loved cars.

1960's E-Type Jaguar

1960’s E-Type Jaguar

There is something about the car that just captures my imagination. The appeal of the sports car, especially something as sensuous as the E-Type Jaguar, is obvious, or at least I believe it is, but that was is not the only car that appeals to me. I like all kinds of cars, not just the fast and the exotic. I think it is the combination of technology and design that excites me.

The automobile is more than just a means of getting from A to B, a useful action that it achieves quite efficiently, it is a welding together of two great human achievements; engineering and art. Now this is not true of every car ever made. Indeed, I would argue that an innate conservatism within the automotive industry has given us a plethora of mundane and average cars for almost as long as the industry has existed. Even today we see adverts for car extolling poetic and exciting qualities of a car that is not exceptional, not revolutionary, not actually that exciting. The most common quality of today’s car is in fact just how conformist they all are.

I think that this conservatism crept into the automotive industry when the money men realised that they could make their first love out of cars. Before then the world of cars was full of visionary engineers who wanted to create something unique, exciting and original. Men like Ettore Bugatti and W. O. Bentley may not have been great businessmen when it came to finances but they produced great cars. The problem was that such leaps of imaginative faith involved a significant degree of risk and that is an aspect of commerce that many financers want to control by reducing it to the smallest degree. There has always been a large portion of the car buying public who are quite happy with the mundane as long as it fulfils its primary function; getting them from A to B.

The most beige car ever invented!

The most beige car ever invented!

Fortunately even amongst financiers there are still people willing to take a risk, to dream a dream, etcetera, etcetera, and so we still have today some very exciting and interesting cars to thrill us.

At the moment I seem to be going through something of a vintage phase, it might be a mid-life crises or something, although to be honest I don’t feel any anxiety for a disappearing youth, nor do I harken back to olden days of golden nostalgia. Well, okay, there is an element of nostalgia in there but I certainly do not want to return to the 1930’s as a place to live, I am all too aware of the many hardships and difficulties that also existed then. When it comes down to it I am pursing an artistic theme, a certain style of design, a time when style was design!

Art Deco house and accompanying car.

Art Deco house and accompanying car.

I have always liked Art Deco for example. I love the mixture of form, function, impressionism, geometry and simplicity of design. The expression of a belief in modernism that was inherent in Art Deco is largely missing in today’s architecture. Buildings like cinemas, houses, petrol stations and restaurants express very little with either their exteriors or interiors. They are largely functional and contribute little to the design landscape of a modern city. Modern buildings are much like modern cars; rarely exceptional.

Only a jackpot win on the lottery would allow me to own an Art Deco house, and to furnish it accordingly, and sadly the same remains true about owning something like one of the cars that I feature on my website. The one good thing about it though is that the cars do exist to be admired. There are still people not only able to afford such wonderful objects but happy to share them every now and again at a car show for people like me to take pictures off and admire. I am not jealous of such people, I am glad that they love cars as well and are willing to spend their money to keep the best of them in existence.

1933 Pierce Silver Arrow

1933 Pierce Silver Arrow

Many years after giving driving for safety reasons I have applied for my licence once again. The motivation for this was discovering that in the time between when I first attempted to learn to drive and now that car design has moved on quite dramatically and that cars today can be adapted to allow for people with disabilities, people like me, to drive them safely. I have recently been having lessons in just such an adapted car. It is not an exciting car to look at, it is not a Ferrari or a Jaguar, just a Hyundai i30, but it is an exciting car for me all the same because it is the means by which I will realise a dream. For a long time I have been a spectator in many respects, and I suppose a passenger as well, but today I can be the one in control of the vehicle.

I am building up to taking my practical test having recently passed the theory part. Obviously I need to purchase a car of my own and my funds do not stretch to the kind of cars that I dream of; well that’s true of most of us anyway. Another consideration is that I have to buy and then pay for certain adaptations to be made to car to allow me to drive it, which is an additional cost of some £1500 to £3000 depending on which adaptations I go for. It somewhat confounds me to realise that some people think that I will be getting this for free. I won’t but that’s another issue. My car will be something mundane, I know, but I will be proud to own it all the same.

Aston Martin DB9

Aston Martin DB9

Perhaps one day in the future I might find that I have enough money to treat myself to one of the many cars that I admire. If I do I will be buying such a car, whether it is an Aston Martin or a Delahaye or a Mercedes not as a status symbol or an expression of my personal wealth but simply because there’s something of the design, the style; the look and feel of that particular car that appeals to me. It will be a lot like buying a painting, totally subjective and dependent upon both an intellectual and emotional response provoked by the sight of it. Hopefully I will be able to afford the Art Deco house to park such a car outside of as well!

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