art deco cars

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1939 Horch 853A Special Roadster by Erdmann & Rossi

In 1939, Horch was one of the four rings under what is now the Audi company, both founded by the same man, August Horch. Horch specialized in making extremely luxurious automobiles. Only eight were built and Horch was extremely selective in choosing its’ clients. A prospective owner’s background and place in society were reviewed along with not just the funds to buy the car, but the owner was required to have at least $700,000 in today’s money in their bank account. Each of the second series’ is unique and has variations such as the color, fenders, louvers, and interior. 

As a car designed in response to Mercedes 540k Special Roadster, Horch succeeded in creating a more exclusive and luxurious automobile.

René Vincent, Cover art for Automobilia, July 1922. 

The car is a Peugeot 15 HP

René Vincent (1879-1936) was trained as an architect, but had a successful career as an illustrator during the first third of the 20th century in France. He contributed editorial art to the likes of La Vie parisienne and L'Illustration and did a considerable amount of advertising illustration, especially for automobile companies.

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Tatra Type 87 (1936-1950)

Producing in Czechoslovakia during the most turbulent years of the last century, the Tatra Type 87 managed to be far ahead of it’s time. The radical body shape was an evolution of the first aerodynamically designed car, the Tatra Type 77. Due to it’s shape and efficiency the Type 87 was able to achieve 20mpg at highway speeds and continue on to a top speed over 100mph with it’s rear mounted air cooled V8. The engineering genius behind it, Hans Ledwinka, was imprisoned for six years for collaborating with Nazi Germany but eventually sued for his freedom. It never gained the success he hoped for outside of his home country, but today the Tatra Type 87 is renowned for its’ innovations.

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1938 Phantom Corsair

The 1938 Phantom Corsair was the radical product of Rust Heinz (as in the ketchup company). The Phantom Corsair had many features that were ahead of the it’s time and many others that were little more than curious gimmicks. It featured an altimeter and electronic doors. The exotic shape was able to accommodate four people side by side in the front row but only 2 in the back due to space taken up by beverage cabinets. Rust Heinz designed the radical car on the popular Cord 810 platform and one example was built that he used as his personal car until his death at the young age of 25. The car was intended to go into production at the price of $12,500 in 1938, equating to over $200,000 today.

Today the car exists fully restored in the National Automobile museum in Reno Nevada after a long life of curious modifications, including being painted gold for a time.