Tag Archives: Virgil Exner

Scenes On the Streets of Boston – Part II

  • Fenway
  • Fenway Park Motors on Boylston Street near the Fenway

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?

  • Parking
  • A parking lot on Broadway and Stuart Streets, January 26, 1957

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.

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You’ll Get More at Moore Motor Sales – Riverside, California, c.1950

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.

First, By Far with a Postwar Car
First, By Far with a Postwar Car

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.

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The 1947 Studebaker – “First, By Far with a Postwar Car”

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.

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