Petersen Automotive Museum shows aerodynamic design in From Art to Science. Probing slippery car shapes through history, the exhibit includes everything from pre WWII experimentals to a Tucker 48 and a speed record setting GM concept car.
At sixty miles per hour a car uses most of its energy pushing itself through air resistance, a fact that hasn’t been lost on auto designers. Now all cars are wind tunnel tested for effciency. This makes better cars, but often leads to look-alike jellybean designs. The show’s title expresses why that might have happened as aerodynamic design progressed from intuitive art to disciplined science. Models, graphics, production cars and prototypes add depth to the show, another hit for curator Leslie Kendall.
The show’s 1955 Ghia Gilda’s space age style contrasts with the dowdy-looking 1938 Mercedes 170-H. General Motors’ Oldsmobile Aerotech demonstrates aero design for speed record attempts, and the innovative Citroen DS shows a French twist on streamlining. The range of exhibits gives an insightful overview of this often overlooked aspect of automotive design. The Petersen’s Aerodynamic Design from Art to Science runs through May 27, 2013.