Relatively unknown to many younger car enthusiasts today, in the early 1930’s Reo built some outstanding, high quality luxury cars. The big sedan seen in this factory photo from May, 1932 is their top-of-the-line Royale.
Every bit the equal of similar offerings by Cadillac, Packard and Pierce-Arrow, the Royale became a style leader the year before as the first mass produced car to have the then new aesthetic of streamlining incorporated into it’s design. While the overall shape was not dissimilar to it’s contemporaries, the deep “V” contour of the radiator shell, the rounding off of all sharp edges and extension of fenders and headlight pods contributed to a shape that was at the same time recognizable and revolutionary.
It was the work of Amos Northup, a stylist at the Murray Body Company. Aside from it’s attractive appearance, Northup claimed that results from wind tunnel testing showed that the new shape reduced by 12% the amount of horsepower required to propel the Royale at 80 m.p.h. Would that todays super slippery shapes be as visually appealing as Northup’s masterpiece.