Imagine—Automobile Concept Art from the 1930s to the 1980s

The golden age of American automobile design is universally considered to be from the 1940s to the early 1970s, an innovative period for the country’s automobile manufacturers and for the artists who designed and styled the cars of the future. The goal was to sell more cars primarily by employing artists to create vehicles with ‘eye appeal’ for the buying public. There were many thousands of drawings of these futuristic models, but almost all have been lost or purposely destroyed by the manufacturers to minimize copying. The eye-catching images shown in this book have been gathered together over the last 15 years and now form part of The Kelley Collection. They are rare survivors and illustrate the work of the men and woman who drew and designed the cars from their early days at art school and during their employment with the ‘Big Three’ US automobile manufacturers. These artists have been almost forgotten and this book honors them for their contributions and imagination. The reader is taken back to earlier times when the sky was the limit, dreams and vision were encouraged and restrictions were few. Eighty-seven individual artists are represented here with 235 wonderfully unique images.

Author: Patrick G. Kelley
Publisher: Dalton Watson Fine Books, Deerfield, Illinois 60015, USA
ISBN: 978-1-85443-306-0
Publication Date:  August 2019
Page Size: 219 mm x 290 mm, landscape, hard cover 324 pages
Price: Signed and numbered limited edition of 100: US$135/£110. Regular Edition: US$90/£75
Sample Pages: Click here.
Ordering and information: Click here.


Sample Images

  1. Dennis F. Otto

    It was very nice to see Strother Mac Minn explaining the finer points of auto design to students at the “old” ACCD out on 3rd Street in L.A. Mac was one of the BEST instructors at the College for decades, and his dedication to his students and creative learning was of the highest order.

    Truly among the best of the best at Art Center. I still miss discussing design with him, not to mention buying him dinner as a small token of appreciation for the knowledge he imparted while I was one of his students. DFO

  2. I’ve lived with Patrick’s book for a year or so, and refer to it often. His collection of sketches and illustrations is first rate. Without hesitation, I recommend it to anyone who loves car design and wonders how sketches were done before computers. Truly a must have on your bookshelf.


  3. Howard Pelcman

    I see this artwork and I am 18 again.
    This is the stuff that occupied my waking hours and why I wasn’t a very good student.
    At night, as I drifted off to sleep, I could see the changes I needed to make.
    Fortunately for me my Mechanical Drawing teacher saw it as something positive and
    let me use class time to create my design. Thank you Mr. Hertzon.

    Design Excellence Award 1968.
    Howard Pelcman

  4. Christopher Dowdey

    What truly awesome images and creativity. I was a student of Homer LaGassey at Arts and Crafts in Detroit which later became Center for Creative Studies.
    Homer was o e if the few designers to have worked in all three auto Design studios. GM
    Ford, and Chrysler. I believe
    Don DeLarossa was another designer that worked in all 3 company’s. The design images
    Shown are truly spectacular.
    Thank you for sharing.


    Great article. Many designers get lost in history. They should be remembered.

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