How do you like your dieselpunk – brutal, greasy and all-riveted or sleek, polished and shiny? No matter. Most probably, it will be served streamlined. Beautiful curves, shaped in wind tunnel, go well with any device of your choice – from express train to desktop radio.
This picture was taken in 1934. First US-designed streamline passenger car and one of the first streamline articulated trains together. Both were inspired by aeronautical technologies. First and foremost, by airships – what could be more streamlined?
We can’t but mention that the man who set the standards for streamline design, Paul Jaray, worked at Luftschiffbau Zeppelin in 1915-1920. He used his experience to create the shape of future cars – fast and fuel-efficient.
Of course, the first streamliners looked weird. Not only Jaray experimental cars, but also the Rumpler Tropfen-Auto (Teardrop Car) designed by another aircraft engineer, Edmund Rumpler.
The starting point of streamline architecture is Einstein Tower in Potsdam, designed by Erich Mendelsohn and built during the Great War:
This expressionist masterpiece originated scores of curved structures – but to see them growing, you had to wait.
If in 1920s the world was not ready to adopt streamline designs, in 1930s the “aerodynamic style” became an instant hit, applied to diesel-electric trains:
… electric locomotives:
… good old steam engines:
… and fast electric trains:
Automotive industry finally adopted streamline design in mid-1930s. In Europe, the pioneering make was Tatra with their rear-engine Model 77 designed by Hans Ledwinka:
Stateside, the first was the Airflow designed by Carl Breer:
It wasn’t a success, but it paved a way for many aerodynamic, fast, fuel-efficient serial production cars, like Lincoln-Zephyr, Peugeot 402, Fiat 500 and 508C, to name a few. Ah yes, the VW Beetle, of course.
Don’t forget about architecture. In 1930s, streamline moderne was quite fashionable as a compromise between modernist “all or nothing” designs and a natural desire for more elegance.
And for a dessert: a streamline radio set:
It was only a short review. We’ll be back with more streamline and other goodies.