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Sensuous Steel – Art Deco Automobiles at the Frist Museum

The Delahaye 135MS Figoni and Falaschi Roadster first seen at the 1937 Paris Auto Salon from the Collection of The Revs Institute for Automobile Research at the Collier Collection.

An exhibition of some truly remarkable automobiles is currently in progress at The Frist Center for Visual Arts in Nashville, Tennessee and runs until September 15, 2013. A must see for lovers of Art Deco and “French Curve” design, visitors unfamiliar with those genres will likely be even more impressed by the striking style of these cars. Superb lighting shows them off to their best advantage as seen in these images courtesy of Bruce Sweetman.

They come to the Frist from some of the finest collections in the country. Well known automotive journalist and guest curator Ken Gross brief gives a  brief introduction to the exhibit in the video below.

A preview of just some of the cars you will see there follows below. You can find out more about this display and the Frist Center, including hours and directions, here.


L to R (above) : The Collier Collection’s Delahaye 135MS Roadster Roadster features leather interior and matching carpets by Hermès.  Another gorgeous Delahaye, a 1936 135M Competition Coupe from the collection of Jim Patterson also sports coachwork by Figoni and Falaschi . 


L to R (above) : The Patterson Delahaye 135M, and a 1934 Voisin Type C27 Aerosport Coupe from the Collection of Merle and Peter Mullin


L to R (above) : The Mullin Museum’s 1934 Voisin Type C27 Aerosport Coupe and a stunning 1934 Packard Twelve Model 1106 Sport Coupe by LeBaron belonging to Robert and Sandra Bahre.


L to R (above) : Front view of the Bahre’s Packard and a very rare 1930 Jordan Model Z Speedway Ace Roadster from the Collection of the Edmund J. Stecker Family Trust.


L to R (above) : The instrument panel of the Jordan Speedway Ace and the 1939 Bugatti Type 57C Vanvooren Cabriolet built for the Shah of Persia on loan from Margie and Robert E. Petersen of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.


L to R (above) : The dashboard in the Bugatti Type 57C and a 1929 Cord L-29 Cabriolet first owned by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s currently part of the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Automobile Museum Collection.


L to R (above) : The unique Hispano-Suiza H6B Dubonnet “Xenia” Coupe on loan from The Mullin Automotive Museum. Conceived in 1937 by André Dubonnet of aperitif fame, it was designed by Jean Andreau and built with coachwork by Jacques Saoutchik.

All photos courtesy of Bruce Sweetman.

4 responses to “Sensuous Steel – Art Deco Automobiles at the Frist Museum

  1. Mr. Gross comments that these cars weren’t designed for today’s safety standards, but instead for beauty.

    Long ago my junior high social studies teacher told us: You can be free, or you can be secure. But you can’t be both.

    Seems appropriate – especially in today’s very safe automobiles.


  2. David, thanks for letting us know about this. We’ll be finishing the Glidden Tour in Chattanooga on Sept 13, so sure seems like a good day trip on the 14th. Back in the early 70’s, the L-29 Cord was owned by a gent in New Port Richey and was a regular attendee at local car shows. I see it still has it’s Florida Horseless Carriage tag on it.

  3. The 1939 Bugatti Type 57C was a wedding gift from the French government to the Prince of Persia (later the Shah). The marriage was short lived – the car stayed in his garage until 1959 when it was sold for the equivalent of $275 USD.

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