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2019-01-09 09:00:00
by Christopher Butt
(comments: 0)

Cars - Driven by Design

Is there anything new to be said about The Most Beautiful Cars Of All Time? 


It is a lot easier to write about Sergio Sartorelli’s Fiat Ritmo than Malcolm Sayer’s Jaguar E-type. Certainly if the author in question is intent on coming up with something that is, at least, entertaining and, at best, illuminating. 

For this reason, I was equally delighted and cautious when Düsseldorf’s Museum Kunstpalast approached me regarding Cars - Driven by Design in early 2018.

The museum - and particularly the curator in charge, the delightful Barbara Til - was in the process of devising and organising an exhibition on sports car design; the first time this would be done at a German fine arts museum. 



Unlike MoMA’s seminal 8 Cars exhibition, PS: Ich liebe Dich (as the show ended up being named) is focused solely on post-war sports cars. Or, in other words: The prettiest automobiles ever created - which also happen to be automobiles about which an awful lot has been written already. 

As I try and not waste my time and that of the reader as best as I can, I did what I could to not simply reiterate the gospel of how and why the likes of Farina, Scaglione, Giugiaro and Gandini created forms of unmatched beauty, but approach each subject from a slightly unorthodox angle. 



Regardless of what this modus operandi eventually resulted in, I was careful to be respectful of each and every subject. In that sense, I treated these most revered of automobiles just as I would deal with a Fiat Ritmo.

Thankfully - and not entirely expectedly - early response to my articles has been encouraging. However, I look forward to receiving more feedback from visitors of PS: Ich liebe Dich at Museum Kunstpalast and especially readers of the book.


Cars - Driven by Design can be purchased online here. 



Excerpts © Hirmer Verlag/Museum Kunstpalast

Photos © Auto-Didakt (6), Hirmer Verlag (1)


©, all rights reserved

Christopher Butt


car enthusiast, writer, critic

biased, elitist, German 

Comment by Guido Lambeck |

Having visited the exhibition on the last weekend I have mixed feelings about it.

First, I don't think that cars, as well as other objects of design should be presented in an art-museum.
I never liked the idea to find cars in Moma, cars may have a sculptural quality but they were made for a purpose, not for their own sake, as a piece of art should be.
So this exhibition at this place is debateble.

The exhibition at all is wonderful, the cars were selected with taste and knowledge and were mostly in very fine condition.
And you seldomly have the opportunity to find the most beautiful car in the world, the wonderful Lancia Aurelia B24 Spider America together with an Aston Martin DB 4 GT Zagato and the fantastic Alfa Romeo SS-Prototype.

The cars and the presentation were nearly perfect, one little detail I have to critizise: The numberplates are essential aspects in the design of front and rear of the car and some cars were exhibited without their numberplates, it would have given the presentation a nice touch if all cars would have been presented with similar numberplates.

So, despite the fact that the German edition of the catalogue was sold out and that the selection of books in the book shop was rather unispiring, it was a wonderful exhibition at the wrong place...

The poster with the Alfa Romeo will find its place in my garage!

Reply by Christopher Butt

Kunstpalast is mainly known as a museum of the fine arts, but also in possession of a vast design collection. The car exhibition is hence intended to highlight the museum's scope, if you will. 

To be honest with you, I personally enjoyed the fact that some of the cars didn't look quite factory fresh. The Ferrari 166 MM's  grungy looks only add to that car's appeal, in my opinion, as does the knowledge that it's still used on public roads by its current owner. 

As you pointed out, the staging of the cars was very good indeed. To be able to see how Scaglione's Giulietta SS inspired Sayer's/Lyons' E-type is an opportunity one isn't often presented with, as is comparing the Cisitalia 202 with the early Porsche 356, side-by-side. 

It's a pity you couldn't get a copy of the accompanying book in German (which was sold out outside the museum in early December already). Be assured though that I wrote the English versions of my texts with just as much care as the original pieces in our shared Muttersprache. For that reason, the English edition might be a worthwhile compromise in your case. 

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