Last weekend, I finally got around to seeing Speed, Style and Beauty: the Museum of Fine Arts‘ exhibit of some of Ralph Lauren’s cars. The cars on display were stunning, both in terms of their design and the absolute perfection of their multi-million dollar restorations. Of the fourteen cars in the show, my favorites were the the early Bugatti racecar for the purity of the shape, the Porsche 550 Spyder for being so simple and elemental — the car I’d most like to drive on a racetrack; the Mercedes 300SL Gullwing as the car I’d most like to drive through the Alps with C; and the Ferrari 250 GTO simply because I’ve loved it ever since I was twelve.
One of the themes that emerged very strongly from the show was the idea of how the different national sensibilities had a profound influence on automobile design in an age before wind-tunnel optimization and the rise of international schools of transportation design. The lithe, low, bright red 1929 Alfa Romeo 2900C stood in sharp contrast to the bulldog, almost militaristic shape of the 1925 Blower Bentley, or the tidy shapes and silver finish of the German cars against the Baroque forms of the Bugattis and the extroverdish Ferraris.
It took me a long time to see the show. While I’ve always loved the shapes of cars, I’ve never been very enthusiastic about the q-tip branch of car enthusiasm. Ultimately, I’d much rather be driving, or at least see the cars driven.
More Photos of the Exhibit
If you liked this exhibit, your next stop should be at the Schlumpf Collection in Mulhouse, France. This phemonenal collection once belonged to Fritz Schlumpf, whose passion for old Bugattis and Ferraris caused the ultimate bankruptcy of his entire textile empire.