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ART AND THE MOTOR CAR; DESIGNING TO BE STUDIO TASK

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Topics:  Society of Automobile Engineers, W.B. Stout

ART AND THE MOTOR CAR; DESIGNING TO BE STUDIO TASK

The New York Times
June 18, 1916


W. B. Stout of the Society of Automobile Engineers, in a paper on "Art and the Motor Car," read at the last meeting of the Mid-West section of the Society of Automobile Engineers, says:

"This self-respect or pride-value in a car depends upon the authority of the vehicle's design, its social standing, and the degree of art involved in its make-up; the appeal of its appearance. The art of motor-car building is thus revolving itself more and more into a studio task for the artist and for the coach builder in his atelier working to produce into the new models a new appeal of the eye, a new attraction of beauty.

"If a car is designed for a certain excellence or standard of mechanical performance, then its body lines and contours must be so disposed as to proclaim and suggest that performance to the observer and to the prospective buyer. If a car is designed primarily for comfort, then the art lines should suggest comfort; if the main feature of the design is the motor, then special attention should be given to the lines to emphasize in the observer's mind the importance of what is under the hood.

"There are certain definite rules and principles to art which rarely have been applied to motor car design, but which are vitally important. These principles may be used by the designer with as much authority as the engineer assumes in the use of his slide rule, or the teacher in his statement that 2 and 2 make 4; yet these very rules have not been made use of in motor-car layouts until the past two seasons. Even yet few companies are employing artists on their engineering staffs.

"The day will come when bodies will be designed by artists of national reputation in this line who spend all their art study to make motor-car bodies express in their lines, contours, and arrangement the individuality and performance that the car possesses and that the sale and advertising departments want to express to the public in handling that car commercially. If the car in body lines backs up, in its appeal, the statements of the advertising, and if the performance and life of the car back up the appearance, then will that car be a success, and the marketing of it to the people be accomplished along lines of least resistance and cost."

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