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These Nineteen Fifties-Period Idea Vehicles Stay What Automotive Goals Are Made Of

These Nineteen Fifties-Period Idea Vehicles Stay What Automotive Goals Are Made Of

Petersen Automotive Museum

Between 1949 and 1961, General Motors helped define the idea of the auto show with its Motorama. The traveling exhibition filled venues across the U.S. with the manufacturer’s entire brand portfolio at the time, from kitchen appliances to its automobile lineup. And when it came to the latter, GM leaned heavily on what it referred to as “Dream Cars.” Now, a small assemblage of such machines from yesteryear comprises “GM’s Marvelous Motorama,” the latest exhibit at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.

Conceived by Harley Earl, head of GM’s Art & Color Department in the middle of the last century, the original Motorama showcased what potential customers might be able to expect in the future, but also served as a barometer to gauge the public’s interest in various stylistic features and amenities. Today, these early concepts provide a fascinating snapshot of the era’s creative and cultural trends as translated by some of the period’s leading automotive designers.

“They considered these cars to be their best work because they were working without limitations,” says Jonathan Eisen, the Petersen’s associate curator, commenting on the individuals who penned such automobiles. “They didn’t have to think about how much this is going to cost when it goes on sale, or whether it has to sit on the same platform as another car . . . the cars could be anything in their imagination.” According to Eisen, the Motorama also “really did change the way that the car companies marketed their models to Americans.”

Representing Motorama’s heyday from 1953 through 1955, these six concepts—each belonging to the Joe Bortz Collection—are on display at the Petersen through March 2026.

Source: Robb Report

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