A History of Scholarship on American Automobile Design

by David Gartman


Appearance is undoubtably the most important feature of the automobile for the vast majority of American consumers. “Style sells cars” has been common wisdom in the industry since at least the 1930s. Market competition and government regulation long ago ensured that all cars would take their passengers from one point to another with roughly comparable levels of safety, efficiency, and reliability. Besides, automobile technology has become so complex over the years that most of us find the actual functioning of our vehicles a mystery. Given such technical ignorance and institutional assurances, most of us choose the car that looks best from the broad category that meets our transportation needs.






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