Tag Archives: Virgil Exner
The 2014 Concours d’Elegance of America at St. John’s Inn, located in Plymouth, Michigan, was held on Sunday, July 27th. The 36th annual running of the event marked the fourth year at its new home after moving from Meadow Brook Hall in Rochester Hills. More than 250 vehicles were on display on a part of the 27-hole golf course located at the Inn.
Highlights and special classes covered the evolution of the sports car, the visionary designs of Virgil Exner, Jet Age pick-ups from the fifties and sixties and the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang and Lamborghini. In addition, there was a full field of the traditional concours fare comprised of American and European brass, antique and classic cars.
The highlight of the event was the awarding of the best-in-show trophys, one to an American vehicle and the other to a foreign vehicle. The Best in Show – American was won by a 1932 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Victoria owned by William and Barbara Parfet of Hickory Corners, Michigan. Best in Show – Foreign went to a 1939 Bugatti T57C Cabriolet from the Patterson Collection of Louisville, Kentucky.
The 1932 Duesenberg wearing coachwork by Walter M. Murphy is believed to be one of the earliest Convertible Victoria bodys to be built on a Model J chassis. The 1939 Bugatti T57C when new was fitted with very distinctive coachwork by Voll & Ruhrbeck, a German coachbuilder. Two of its styling elements of interest are the unusual art moderne style grille and the peaked and razor-edged rear fenders. You can see more of the Bugatti on a video taken at last years St. James’s Concours.
Other notable award winners above are: a 1929 Duesenberg Model J owned by Tony & Jonna Ficco of Wheat Ridge, Colorado, a 1932 Chrysler CL Imperial owned by Donald Bernstein of Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania, and a 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 owned by Denis Bigioni of Pickering, Ohio. Look for more photos and information soon at the Concours d’Elegance of America at St. John’s.
In 1954, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Kevin Lynch began his Perceptual Form of the City project, a five year endeavor funded by The Rockefeller Foundation. He was joined in it by Professor Gyorgy Kepes at the M.I.T. Center for Urban and Regional Studies and Nishan Bichajian, assistant to Professor Kepes, who shot these photographs. These are the first of a series on The Old Motor that will feature more of those photos.
Our top photo shows one of the many varied businesses located near the famous Red Sox baseball stadium in the Fenway-Kenmore area of the city before urban renewal began. While its connection to the team might have been tenuous, there can be little doubt that the name was not only instantly recognizable to potential customers, but also provided useful information about its location. We do wonder about the meaning of the top part of the great sign that immortalized Marcy in neon and describes her Dad as the owner of the business. Do any of our Boston area readers know the story behind it?
In our second image, the Virgil Exner-styled DeSoto on the billboard in the background provides a dramatic contrast to the older cars in the parking lot. These radically restyled Chrysler products had been at the dealers for just a few brief months when this photo was taken but everything else already looks quite dated by comparison. Of course, their appearance is not helped by the coating of winter grime on them that is so familiar to snow belt motorists. You can learn a little more about the study here. Nishan Bichajian’s photos courtesy of MIT Libraries.
Studebaker might have made the claim that they were “First By Far With a Postwar Car” in 1947, but they didn’t offer very much that was innovative under their radical Virgil Exner-styled skins. It was left to another independent builder, Hudson, to start a major trend towards longer, lower and wider cars in the following year that would persist well into the next decade. Aside from the obvious styling appeal, their “step-down” design provided a lower center of gravity that resulted in better handling than their competitors.
- L and R : Pages from a 1950 brochure and center, a magazine ad via The Old Car Manual Project.
The handsome 1950 convertible in our top photo today was posed at 3506 Main Street in Riverside and we can’t think of many better ways to have enjoyed top down motoring in sunny southern California back then. You’ll find many more pages of Hudson related material on The Old Motor. The Hudson-Essex-Terraplane Club is an enthusiastic group dedicated to the preservation of those makes. Moore Motor Sales photo courtesy of Alden Jewell.
The banner on the wall reads “Tomorrow’s Car’s A Year in Advance” and the 1947 Studebakers sure looked different from anything Detroit had to offer that year. It’s easy to see how unconventional these cars appeared by comparing them to everything else parked on the street in the background of both photos. While Ford, GM and Chrysler were still selling rehashes of their 1941 models to a car hungry public, Studebaker’s new model drew a large and curious crowd to the J.M. Brown showroom in Vancouver, B.C., Canada on July 4, 1946
Virgil Exner, Sr., who had been working in Raymond Loewy’s studio since 1938 and would later achieve fame as the chief architect of Chrysler’s “Forward Look“, was largely responsible for the design but Loewy and his company took all the credit. Preston Tucker’s radical looking car was still more than a year away and General Motors new ground breaking 1949 designs were two years out when these photos were taken.
There are many other Studebaker related posts here on The Old Motor. One of the most active single make clubs in the country is the Studebaker Driver’s Club. Photos by Don Coltman courtesy of the City of Vancouver.