Dean's Garage
February 21, 2010 9:00 AM   Subscribe

"Modes and Motors was a publication produced by General Motors Styling Section in 1938. It is reproduced here in its entirety because its message of what automobile and product design is supposed to represent is lost on today’s world. Modes and Motors is a snapshot into the way designers used to think about their profession."
So then Dean's Garage would be the fat album of classic automobile styling and design from which it came, documenting a long, beautifully chromed age of optimism.
posted by carsonb (7 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
More people want cheap cars than beautiful ones. Chrome, spaciousness, commodities all cost weight and gas mileage.

There has been something lost, and maybe we can make it up with the advent of better fuel sources.

now to read the links leisurely :)
posted by rubah at 11:22 AM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh, I wish I had lived in an age when mass-produced things were beautiful, solid, and durable.
posted by philokalia at 12:23 PM on February 21, 2010

Have you seen one of those old GM "beauties?". They look great from 10 feet back, but when you get close all but the most expensive were littered with rough edges, exposed parts and eyesores. Today's cars may be mostly plastic inside, but they're far more carefully laid out than the classics.
posted by Popular Ethics at 2:15 PM on February 21, 2010

solid, and durable

No thanks, I'll keep my crumple zones.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 3:18 PM on February 21, 2010


I'll be somewhat surprised and fairly pissed off if my current car has major problems before 150k miles.
posted by ryanrs at 4:33 PM on February 21, 2010

On one hand, speaking as a person who spent far more time than I ever wanted wrenching on an old car so that I could have transportation, I love the fact that modern cars are virtually 100% reliable transportation appliances. I struggle to think when a breakdown last left me stranded... maybe 10 years ago? There's a reason you never hear people say that they're taking their car in for a "tune-up" these days.

On the other hand, I love the styling and simplicity of old transportation machines. For me, many cars from the 50s and 60s are pieces of art that, it happens, can also be used, gently these days, to provide transportation. Knowing how every single part on the thing works is an awesome feeling and the optimistic (The future is just around the corner and it's going to be AWESOME!) styling really speaks to me. It's a bit sad that you can't get your choice of a dozen bright interior and exterior colors any more. Mark my words: Turquoise and Pink are going to make a comeback any day now.

Having said that, arguably we've the best of both worlds. It's not 1964 anymore, but, given some financial means you can still find those old cars and maintain them in the same sort of condition. You can drive your appliance to work everyday in air-conditioned comfort and then, on nice summer days, take your Bel Air, your Fairlane, your Hawk, your El Dorado, or whatever out for a spin on some nice quiet roads.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 5:53 PM on February 21, 2010

The Modes and Motors illustrations are so boss. All kinds of gray with a splash of orange here and there, framed in so many sleek lines. A nice glimpse into the lesser-known side of automobile history.
posted by cobwebberies at 8:44 PM on February 21, 2010

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