The Dream Cars exhibit this summer at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta is a thrilling ride through automotive history that every car lover will adore.
The collection might be far smaller than most auto shows, but the impact of every car will leave your feet cemented to the floor. And your jaw? It will often be on the floor as well.
No other recent collection spans the time and space of automotive evolution and design quite as thoroughly.
Every car in the collection is marvelous. The TASCO opens the gallery and its design is certainly one that sticks with you… even after seeing the jet-age and rocket-age creations that followed its 1948 introduction.
The TASCO was the brainchild of a new car brand from the brilliant Duesenburg and Cord designer Gordon Buehrig.
TASCO itself is an acronym for The American Sportscar Company — and the ideas shown on Buehrig’s creation are inspired. But there is a catch.
The aeronautic design influence runs throughout the TASCO – from its fared wheels all around to the front fenders that moved with the steering wheel. In theory, at high enough speeds, the TASCO’s fenders would act like rudders on a plane, shifting the car effortlessly through the wind as the steering wheel changed direction via the contact patches of the tires.
The canopy cockpit is the next breathtaking piece of design, with functional visibility benefits as well as what is billed as the world’s first T-Top roof with removable sections.
Hood latches, gas tank lids and the machine as a whole are completely streamlined, from the vertical front radiator faceplate to the glassed-in rear license plate frame.
Even the cabin brings a very avant-garde approach to controls – with numerous thrust-actuator-style levers to control various car functions. It is lovely, especially in the use of curved glass and then-pricey plexiglass for these impossible window shapes.
So what is the catch? This airplane-inspired design is wonderful, of course, but was quickly dated by the latest tech in planes themselves: jet power.
All these design ideas in the TASCO are generally from propeller planes.
So as the jet engine and jet-powered aircraft were coming on the scene in 1945 — the logic for such a tall cockpit and expansive glass canopy were going out of style in a hurry.
We will see in the Dream Cars walk-through what ideas superseded the TASCO in the designer world — with quick movement past the propeller age, into the jet age, and then firmly landing in rocket-powered ideas by the late 1950s.
The Dream Cars exhibit at Atlanta’s High Museum is a wonderful and rare chance to see the TASCO in the flesh, however, and its design really is the zenith moment of excellence for prop-inspired sports cars.
DREAM CARS runs through September 7th at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art.