The 40s and 50s – On the Road with Design

The Greyhound Bus Raymond Loewy
The Greyhound Bus Raymond Loewy

Petrol was in short supply during the war, and it was rationed in the United Kingdom until 1954. For the majority of people, this made owning a car an unattainable luxury.

Individual Freedom

As average earnings increased and fuel supplies became more secure in the 1950s, more individuals in Europe and the United States purchased automobiles. The open road grew to symbolise a variety of goals and aspirations for Americans in particular. Automobile companies like Chrysler, Ford, and Cadillac designed futuristic designs that represented this sense of anticipation and optimism.

Exhibitionism

The exaggerated style was an essential look. The gleaming chrome fins conveyed speed. A car that was higher in the front than the back did the same. The quality of the car’s face — two headlamps for the eyes, a grill for the nose, and a fender for the mouth – was frequently highlighted. This gave the vehicle the appearance of a devoted companion with a distinct personality.

Small is beautiful

While American automobiles grew in size, Europeans prefered private transportation. New bubble cars, tricycles, and motorcycles were designed by British, French, and German designers. These vehicles were extraordinarily fuel-efficient and ideal for commuting in cities.

SMZ S-1L Russian Micro Car
SMZ S-1L Russian Micro Car

Scooting About

Due to their low fuel consumption, motorcycles were an ideal answer for the war-torn economy. The Vesper was introduced in 1946 by the Italian company Piaggio. It was produced for more than 40 years. It was popular because it was inexpensive to operate, simple to drive, and attractive to look at. The Lambretta, its formidable adversary, debuted in 1947. Both men and women were targeted for each.

Photo by Dio Alif Utomo on Pexels.com

Public Transport

Of course, not everyone has access to a personal mode of transportation. Buses and trams remained popular modes of public transportation, and they, too, were restyled. In the 1940s, Raymond Loewy worked on America’s famed Greyhound buses. The coast-to-coast buses became a design classic in the postwar era.

Londonn Bus from the 1950s -This Red Double-Decker RT model was gradually replaced by the Routemaster Bus from 1959 onwards
London Bus from the 1950s -This Red Double-Decker RT model was gradually replaced by the Routemaster Bus from 1959 onwards

Sources

Jones, H. (1999). 20Th century Design: 40s And 50s: War and post-war years. Heinemann Library.

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