Classic Drive-In from American Graffiti

Continuing this week’s look at car imagery, we celebrate the image-makers inspired by the car to make movies, magazines and visionary picture books

From the ultimate car chase to the ultimate car visionary, here are five moments that made is look again at the idea and image of ‘the car’.

1. C’etait un Rendez-vous

Claude Lelouch shot this in a single, 8 minute take, the definitive car chase movie, speeding through Paris in the dawn, round the Arc De Triomphe, Place de la Concorde, arriving finally at the Sacre Couer. Why drive at death-defying speed, practically in the dark, risking life and arrest? For a woman of course.

2. Back to the Future

“Wait a minute, Doc. Ah… Are you telling me that you built a time machine… out of a DeLorean?” And the rest is history, or the future. Rarely has a car looked so sleek, so desirable, so futuristic.

3. Drive: Little White Lies

The Drive cover for Little White Lies magazine created by Michael Gillette. Magazine designed by Church of London,  it’s only last year but already a classic.

4. American Graffiti

While the rest of the New Hollywood directors were feeding off the feelbad factor in America from Vietnam, urban riots and political assassination George Lucas’ went back to the moment before it all seemed to go wrong – 1962. This coming-of age movie with teenagers cruising round in cars and hot rods helped kickstart the genre of the Hollywood summer blockbuster.  Never has the car seemed so essential to teenage relationship rituals.

5. Syd Mead and US Steel

Syd Mead for US Steel

Industrial designer Syd Mead is a visionary who has shaped how we look at cars. Though better known for his concept designs for Blade Runner, Aliens and Tron, his 1961 images for US Steel promotional booklet, “Concepts”, earned him a place in the heart of a generation of designers who marvelled at the smooth optimism of his car and lifestyle scenarios. Mead’s brochures for US Steel are available online but the strting price on ebay seems to be around $300. His more recent book Sentury II is considerably cheaper. In the meantime check out his interview with BoingBoing.


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