Best Automotive Design Era

What decade was the best for automotive design?

  • 1920’s
  • 1930’s
  • 1940’s
  • 1950’s
  • 1960’s
  • 1970’s
  • 1980’s
  • 1990’s
  • 2000+

0 voters

The Automotive Industry has been an important staple in the design industry for decades. In your opinion what do you feel was the best decade for Automotive design and why?

My vote is for the 60’s , especially '65-'69 with my all-time favorite the Jaguar XJ13

I favor the mid 60’s - very early 70’s for American automotive design. But being the generation that I am, still got the emotional attachment with the 90’s - for certain German & Japanese contributions (Porsche line-up, Rx-7, M3, NSX, etc)…

I have to think about this.

Initial thoughts: As far as designers go, I think they had the most control in the '20/'30s coach building days and the 2000’s. However, I don’t think that designer-control means the best designs. It’s notable that Jag’s classics (XK120, XKE, MKIV) were all ‘designed’ by mechanics and panel beaters working with the president of the company.

I think the high point, in any company, is when you have design, marketing and engineering pushing and pulling each other to new levels. An example might be Cadillac. The current CTS is one of my favorite designs and I see evidence of that whole team synergy combining there.

I too voted for the 1960ies.

It is true what Ray says about synergy in the strenght of multi departements. I’d like to add though, that great design
always flourishes in economic boom times that come after a shaky period. The 1960ies have too much for
them to count: Baby boom, mini skirt, S€X-lib., color TV, mass tourism, etc, etc.

The 1930ies must have been simular after the great depression in many ways, but the difference is, that the
Automotive Industrie was not fully blossomed back then. So many designs were fired by a spirit of exploration
but the solutions came out quirky. On the other hand the quality of hand made details found in vintage Art Deco
objects is more than a cut above the later pop art objects. In the 1960ies quality was not accounted for as mass consumerism made its way.

The best '20’s and '30’s design was during the great depression:

Sorry, I don’t see your point there.

The Duesenberg SJ Models are closely based on the Duesenberg J-Series,
which was presented mere days before the crash in 1929. Duesenberg crawled through the crisis just so.
The Cord 810 on the other hand was designed in 1935, but not thoroughly engineered.

You stated that the booms come after the crisis, I was saying that, in the case of the depression, the boom was during the crisis. In fact, it was across the design world (Loewy, Teague, Bel Geddes were all starting in the depression). It’s been argued that during economic crisis, business is more open to new methods, like design.

Also, I interpreted the question as a design only question. Engineering wise, today’s cars are clearly superior.

By “design” I don’t technically mean aesthetics alone…

To me a good “design” should be a well rounded combination of creativity and collaboration.

Gonna go with the 50’s on this one (unless picking the mid 50’s-early 60’s was an option). The Belair, Caddy’s, Impala, Tbird, C1 Corvette, Aston DB3&4, Jaguar XK’s, etc.

The span between 54-64 encompasses some of the sexiest cars ever. The early 60’s had it’s own share of great evolutions too.

I dont understand why vehicles are so big today? Is there really a need/demand for large, angular autos?

In the US at least I would say there is a stigma around small cars - not safe, uncomfortable, etc. Even our “Small” cars like the Honda Fit or Ford Fiesta are still pretty damn big.

All the bloat comes from a combination of that stigma, years of safety regulations (like recent pedestrian impact regulations which dictate certain impact zones on the front end of a vehicle which usually translates to more height up front), lots of airbags and other equipment, bigger engines, and fat Americans who need big seats for their 7 children.

There are still plenty of small B and K cars out there that can do all that in a much tighter package, but they never get sold stateside. Asia is another story.

I think every era has it’s highlights and low lights. I can think of amazing and horrible cars from all of those eras… as the years pass, the horrible (or even worse mediocre forgettable) tend to be forgotten. I used to think the 80’s where horrible, Chrysler K cars, every GM car looking the same, bit now looking back at the Giugiaro influenced Japanese cars of the era, I see the jems.

On that tip, check out these 70’s Japanese beauties:

While that '64 Jag was happening, look what was going down in the motor city: 1964 Dodge Hemi Charger up for sale! - Core77

Very hard to say. Most of my favourite cars are from the 80s and 90s. Current cars have gotten too fat and dull.

Fiestas and such are for single folks or as a second or third car. SUV actually has its place when you have a family. Their main plus is the big spacious box shaped rear end.