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Our Gallery: Streamline is Dieselpunk

03 Mar

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.

1934 Airflow and UP M-10000 'City of Salina' train

1934 Chrysler Airflow and Union Pacific M-10000 'City of Salina' train

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?

The LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin over Maybach factory in Friedrichshafen

The LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin over Maybach factory in Friedrichshafen

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.

1923 Jaray-Ley T6

1923 Jaray-Ley T6

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.

Rumpler Tropfen-Auto in Fritz Lang 'Metropolis' (1927)

Rumpler Tropfen-Auto in Fritz Lang 'Metropolis' (1927)

The starting point of streamline architecture is Einstein Tower in Potsdam, designed by Erich Mendelsohn and built during the Great War:

Erich Mendelsohn. Einstein Tower, Potsdam. 1917 (Source - aip.de)

Erich Mendelsohn. Einstein Tower, Potsdam. 1917 (Source - aip.de)

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:

DRG SVT 877 Fliegender Hamburger (Germany)

DRG SVT 877 Fliegender Hamburger (Germany)

Burlington Zephyr (USA)

Burlington Zephyr (USA)

… electric locomotives:

Pennsylvania Railroad GG-1 (USA), designed by Raymond Loewy

Pennsylvania Railroad GG-1 (USA), designed by Raymond Loewy

… good old steam engines:

2-3-2V experimental steam locomotive (USSR)

2-3-2V experimental steam locomotive (USSR)

… and fast electric trains:

Roter Pfeil RBe 2/4 202 der OeBB

OeBB Roter Pfeil RBe 2/4 202 (Switzerland) Photo by chrchr_75 @ Flickr

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:

1934 Tatra 77 (via Avi_Abrams @ Flickr)

1934 Tatra 77 (via Avi_Abrams @ Flickr)

Stateside, the first was the Airflow designed by Carl Breer:

Chrysler Airflow designer Carl Breer

Chrysler Airflow designer 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.

Associated Gas Station via paul.malon @ Flickr

Associated Gas Station via paul.malon @ Flickr

Flagey Building, Brussels (1935) by Metropol 21 @ Flickr

Flagey Building, Brussels (1935) by Metropol 21 @ Flickr

21 rue Boissonade, Paris by Delaville @ Flickr

21 rue Boissonade, Paris by Delaville @ Flickr

Office building in Arnhem, the Netherlands. Architect: W.M. Dudok, 1938. By jan 1968 @ Flickr

Office building in Arnhem, the Netherlands. Architect: W.M. Dudok, 1938. By jan 1968 @ Flickr

Ibex House, London (1937) by Fr Mark @ Flickr

Ibex House, London (1937) by Fr Mark @ Flickr

Marine Court, St Leonards-on-Sea by G Travels @ Flickr

Marine Court, St Leonards-on-Sea by G Travels @ Flickr

And for a dessert: a streamline radio set:

Zenith 5R317 1939 World's Fair Radio by ggroch @ Flickr

Zenith 5R317 1939 World's Fair Radio by ggroch @ Flickr

It was only a short review. We’ll be back with more streamline and other goodies.

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One response to “Our Gallery: Streamline is Dieselpunk

  1. Jimmy

    March 28, 2012 at 2:29 am

    Ahh good old Streamline Moderne. The streamlined train designs are some of my favorite (Be they diesel or steam) A shame they seemed to have lasted for such a short time.

     

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