Author(s): Gregory Votolato
Love or despise them, our attitude to cars is contradictory: our attachment to and revulsion of automobiles arises in equal measure across the world and throughout history. Our relationship with the car has always been intimately connected with design and this book examines this complex and persistent bond. If many people today feel that our connection with cars is a vice, how then does this manifest itself in the design of the cars we buy or use? This book shows how and why the automobile has evolved since the late nineteenth century, becoming an object of unparalleled popular desire as well as the problem child of the modern world. Over the past century the internal combustion engine, the lightweight steam engine and the electric motor proved their value to industry and commerce by powering tractors, pickup trucks and delivery vans, while supporting civic order and public service in police vehicles and ambulances. Yet it was the private passenger car that became the most glamorous product of the industrial age, serving psychological, social and economic functions well beyond its utility as a means of transportation.Car introduces the automotive design process, exploring engineering innovation and stagnation, mass-production and aesthetic obsolescence, branded styling and genuine artistry. Including insights from designers, manufacturers and drivers themselves and tracing the lifecycle of the automobile from the drawing board to the scrapyard, Car evaluates the environmental impact of the world's current one billion cars and rising. It offers fascinating insights into the ways our attachments to cars may develop in light of environmental pressures, emerging technologies and changing lifestyles.
Gregory Votolato is a Lecturer at the Victoria & Albert Museum and teaches on the Critical and Historical Studies Vehicle Design Programme at the Royal College of Art, London. He is the author of Transport Design: A Travel History (Reaktion, 2007) and Ship (Reaktion, 2011).