American Grilles (Hardcover)
In 1934 car design altered radically Beginning with the 14 Chrysler Airflow, the automobile developed from a functional means of transportation to a symbol of advanced design, an arbiter of taste. The face of the car became the focus of the new style and originality: people began to recognize and differentiate cars primarily by their grilles. As automobile manufacturers observed this interest, they responded appropriately and called upon specialized, non-factory designers to display their virtuoso talents in this area. This in turn inspired the market, as the public awaited and discussed each design innovation: it was also an opportunity for participation by the public as custom grilles began to make their appearance. Through the '30s and '40s and into the '50s, grilles became each new year's new face of the automobile industry. Eventually, however, ecological and economic considerations began to take precedence: by the end of the '50s the designs of cars had progressed from individualized back to uniform. And their faces became one.
Over a period of two years we selected and photographed hundreds of car grilles while traveling intermittently throughout the United States. At first we sought out car shows and auctions: soon collectors began to come to us to ask if we would take personal portraits of their cars. We couldn't use every car we photographed. Here are the 101 best.