The Spirit of Tomorrow: The Streamliners……

Sam Dickson
Featured image
Dymaxion Car, 1933, Courtesy, The Estate of R. Buckminster Fuller. source

Dymaxion Car, 1933, Courtesy, The Estate of R. Buckminster Fuller. source

Streamlining was associated with prosperity and an exciting future. Many engineers tried to incorporate aerodynamics into the shape of cars in the 1920s, and some entered production. The first such automobile (a prototype) to have a tear-drop shape and have the wheels within the body was the Persu automobile, with a drag coefficient of 0.22, built by Romanian engineer Aurel Persu.

A streamliner is a vehicle incorporating streamlining in a shape providing reduced air resistance. The term is applied to high-speed railway trainsets of the 1930s to 1950s, and to their successor “bullet trains”. Less commonly, the term is applied to fully faired recumbent bicycles. As part of the Streamline Moderne trend, the term was applied to passenger cars, trucks, and other types of light-, medium-, or heavy-duty vehicles, but now vehicle streamlining is so prevalent that it is not an outstanding characteristic. In land speed racing, it is a term applied to the long, slender, custom built, high-speed vehicles with enclosed wheels.

The style was applied to appliances such as electric clocks, sewing machines, small radio receivers and vacuum cleaners. Their manufacturing processes exploited developments in materials science including aluminium and bakelite. Compared to Europe, the United States in the 1930s had a stronger focus on design as a means to increase sales of consumer products. Streamlining was associated with prosperity and an exciting future. This hope resonated with the American middle class, the major market for consumer products. A wide range of goods from refrigerators to pencil sharpeners was produced in streamlined designs.

Streamlining became a widespread design practice for automobiles, railroad cars, buses, and other vehicles in the 1930s. Notable automobile examples include the 1934 Chrysler Airflow, the 1950 Nash Ambassador “Airflyte” sedan with its distinctive low fender lines, as well as Hudson’s postwar cars, such as the Commodore, that “were distinctive streamliners—ponderous, massive automobiles with a style all their own”.

Streamline style can be contrasted with functionalism, which was a leading design style in Europe at the same time. One reason for the simple designs in functionalism was to lower the production costs of the items, making them affordable to the large European working class. Streamlining and functionalism represent two very different schools in modernistic industrial design, but both reflecting the intended consumer. Lets have a look at some of the cool designs of the Streamliner coaches, motorhomes and buses:

 

The amazing 1941 Western Flyer trailer designed by famed industrial designer Brooks Stevens. Stevens also designed a fantastic version of the iconic "Wienermobile" for Oscar Mayer in 1958 (based on a Jeep chassis) that shares several design points with the 1941 Western Flyer trailer. source

The amazing 1941 Western Flyer trailer designed by famed industrial designer Brooks Stevens. Stevens also designed a fantastic version of the iconic “Wienermobile” for Oscar Mayer in 1958 (based on a Jeep chassis) that shares several design points with the 1941 Western Flyer trailer. source

 

 

1937 Motorhome Dubbed the Zeppelin. source

1937 Motorhome Dubbed the Zeppelin. source

 

1938 Opel Blitz. source

1938 Opel Blitz. source

 

The Western Clipper. source

The Western Clipper. source

 

 

0e988bbd1516eba3f1cf1e8bd0cb7465

GM Streamliner (1936-1940). source

 

 

 

 

"The Dymaxion Car "was designed by Buckminster Fuller in the 1933. The three vehicle had rear steering and front-wheel drive powered by a Ford small block V8 engine producing 63 kW. The car could transport up to 11 passengers, reach speeds of up to 140 kph, with a fuel efficiency of 7.8 L/100 km. Buckminster Fuller created the name Dymaxion as a composite of the words ‘dynamic’, ‘maximum’ and ‘ion’, using these as design principles in his industrial designs. source

“The Dymaxion Car “was designed by Buckminster Fuller in the 1933. The three vehicle had rear steering and front-wheel drive powered by a Ford small block V8 engine producing 63 kW. The car could transport up to 11 passengers, reach speeds of up to 140 kph, with a fuel efficiency of 7.8 L/100 km. Buckminster Fuller created the name Dymaxion as a composite of the words ‘dynamic’, ‘maximum’ and ‘ion’, using these as design principles in his industrial designs. source

 

1935 Büssing NAG 375T. source

1935 Büssing NAG 375T. source

 

f806aae9223eb693cf88ae2520646b0f

1956, Turin, Italy “Golden Dolphin Bus” source

 

1935 Stout Scarab. source

1935 Stout Scarab. source

 

1938 Brooks Stevens Western Clipper. source

1938 Brooks Stevens Western Clipper. source

 

 

GM Streamliner (1936-1940). source

GM Streamliner (1936-1940). source

 

Opel Blitz Aero Strassenzepp Doppeldecker Ludewig Aufbau '1935. source

Opel Blitz Aero Strassenzepp Doppeldecker Ludewig Aufbau ‘1935. source

 

Articulated bus FOWLER landliner for the PENINSULA bus lines, Australia. 1946. source

Articulated bus FOWLER landliner for the PENINSULA bus lines, Australia. 1946. source

 

 

Dymaxion Car, 1933, Courtesy, The Estate of R. Buckminster Fuller. source

Dymaxion Car, 1933, Courtesy, The Estate of R. Buckminster Fuller. source

 

Streamline bus, this bus looks futuristic with its super polished and curved construct, with those well caps it is hard to see the wheels at all giving the illusion that it is floating also all the windows make it seem like a submarine. source

Streamline bus, this bus looks futuristic with its super polished and curved construct, with those well caps it is hard to see the wheels at all giving the illusion that it is floating also all the windows make it seem like a submarine. source