Rolling Sculpture: Art Deco Era cars & Motorcycles at VBMA

arts & entertainment

Anybody with even a passing interest in football will watch the Super Bowl. The same is true about classic car shows, which is why you must see the current exhibition at the Vero Beach Museum of Art.

Rolling Sculpture: Streamlined Art Deco Automobiles and Motorcycles was created exclusively for the Museum and features 22 rare 1930s era vehicles, rare because they were custom designed and either never made it into mass production or are perfectly restored production cars that look like they never left the showroom.

Back then, automotive designers strived to create vehicles that were not only fast mechanically under the hood, but looked fast in their streamlined, aerodynamic bodies. That concept of speed was based on railroad locomotives and pre-40s airplanes. After World War II, automotive designs reflected the sea change to jet airplanes and rockets.

1937 Delahaye

One of the automobiles on display is a 1937 Delahaye 135MS Roadster. It was designed by Parisian coach builders for the 1937 Paris Auto Salon, where its avant-garde design caused a sensation. The fenders were incorporated into the aluminum body to heighten the impression of a singular, flowing form. The door handles were mounted flush to the body’s surface. Delahaye was a French company started in 1894 and lasted until the early 1950s.

1930 Westfall-Henderson

Two motorcycles from that period are on display. This Henderson KJ Streamline was built in 1930 and was capable of speeds in excess of 100 mph. It was the only one ever built with an art deco design body.

The 1938 Phantom Corsair measures only 57 inches in height but 237 inches in length. It incorporates fully skirted wheels with flush fenders and no running boards or door handles (push button). It could achieve speeds of up to 115 mph. Only one was ever built, the prototype.

The exhibition features a total of 20 cars and two motorcycles.  Familiar names include Mercedes-Benz, Rolls Royce, Chrysler, Bugatti, Cord and others, all in mint-like condition, but none of them for sale.

1938 Phantom Corsair

This Exhibition has been co-organized by the Vero Beach Museum of Art with guest curator Ken Gross. Gross has been an automotive journalist for over forty years and has curated several museum exhibitions across the United States, including “The Allure of the Automobile,” at the Portland Art Museum. He is the former director of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles and is based in Virginia.

Rolling Sculpture: Streamlined Automobiles and Motorcycles is accompanied by a range of related programs and events, as well as a VBMA-produced catalogue, which is available for purchase in the Museum Store.

For more information and to register for programs, please visit the website and call (772) 231-0707 ext. 116. The Vero Beach Museum of Art is located at 3001 Riverside Park Drive, Vero Beach, Florida 32963.

Directions: From I-95 (Exit 147), from U.S.1, and Indian River Boulevard, take State Road 60 east over the Merrill Barber Bridge to beachside, turn right at first traffic light into Riverside Park.

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