The Rolls-Royce “Art Drive” Makes a Stop at The Wolfsonian

On April 22, 1933, the co-founder of the most famous British luxury automobile company, Frederick Henry Royce, passed away. It was soon after purchasing his first car in the early 1900s that Royce determined that he could design a better vehicle. Joining up with an automotive dealer named, Charles Rolls, the two men form the Rolls-Royce Limited company, with Royce serving as the engineer. In 1906, they produced the six-cylinder Silver Ghost, which was almost immediately acclaimed the “best car in the world.”

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The Wolfsonian–FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection

Earlier this month, the ultimate luxury automobile brand, Rolls-Royce, and the real estate brokerage firm One Sotheby’s organized a Miami “Art Drive” program for their exclusive clients, driving new Rolls-Royce models to some special art and real estate destinations.

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The Wolfsonian–FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection

The Thursday before last, about twenty of their guests stopped in at The Wolfsonian for a guided tour of the galleries and a viewing of vintage luxury automotive promotional materials in our rare book and special collections library.

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The Wolfsonian–FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection

The Wolfsonian–FIU Library has a sizable collection of printed brochures and advertisements for horseless carriages, Locomobiles, Hupmobiles, and a wide variety of automobiles dating from the 1900s.

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The Wolfsonian–FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection

Founded in 1899, the New England-based Locomobile Company of America was one of the earliest manufacturers of a steam-powered vehicle—the name combining “locomotive” and “automobile.” Approximately 4,000 of these “buggies” were built between 1899 and 1902; beginning in 1904, the company began shifting production over to steel-framed automobile powered by a 16-horsepower internal combustion engine.

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The Wolfsonian–FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection

Acquired by Durant Motors in 1922, the Locomobile continued to produce very well-made vehicles, though Henry Ford’s assembly-line production allowed their competitor to churn out a more affordable automobile at 1/30th of the price of the Locomobile Model 48. The Stock Market Crash of 1929 spelled doom for the Locomobile and its parent company.

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The Wolfsonian–FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection

The Hupp Motor Car Company (1909–1939) introduced their first Hupmobile at the 1909 Detroit automobile show, and increased production tenfold, from 500 that year to 5,000 in 1910. That same year, vice president and general manager Bobby Hupp founded the Hupp-Yeats Electric Car Company; when other investors in the company bought him out, he immediately purchased and took over the RDH Motorcar Company. The Hupp Motor Car Company’s all-steel body Hupmobile successfully competed with its Ford and Chevrolet competitors until the corporation’s fortunes declined during the Great Depression.

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The Wolfsonian–FIU, Purchased with Faculty Development Funds

Ransom E. Olds founded the Olds Motor Vehicle Company in Lansing, Michigan in 1897 to build gasoline-powered Oldsmobiles. Between 1901 and 1904, the company produced the first automobiles built on an assembly line. It was purchased by General Motors in 1908 and remained a popular luxury brand.

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The Wolfsonian–FIU, Gift of T. W. Pietsch III, facilitated by Frederic A. Sharf

In the 1950s, the Oldsmobile Rocket V8 engine made it one of the fastest cars on the market, and its styling reflected the country’s new obsession with rockets and jet propulsion.

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The Wolfsonian–FIU, Gift of T. W. Pietsch III, facilitated by Frederic A. Sharf

Founded in 1899, Buick was one of the oldest American brand of internal combustion automobiles; in 1908, it became the basis of the General Motors Corporation.

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The Wolfsonian–FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection

Buick continued to dominate the market for upscale automobiles just below the Cadillac division.

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The Wolfsonian–FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection

Named for the French colonial explorer and founder of Detroit, the Cadillac Motor Car was founded in 1902, but was bought out and became a division of General Motors in 1909. The Cadillac won acclaim for its fine precision engineering, luxury style, and finishes built for an upper-class customer base.

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The Wolfsonian–FIU, Gift of T. W. Pietsch III, facilitated by Frederic A. Sharf

Though sales suffered during the depression years, it rebounded in 1940 and continued to do well after the Second World War.

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The Wolfsonian–FIU, Gift of T. W. Pietsch III, facilitated by Frederic A. Sharf

Even the Ford Motor Company that Henry Ford was determined to produce for a mass market began selling a luxurious Lincoln brand beginning in 1917 for an elite clientele.

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The Wolfsonian–FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection

In the interwar years, the Ford Motor Car Company produced a line of automobiles for the luxury market in Europe and even adopted sexually suggestive advertising geared for the French market.

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The Wolfsonian–FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection

In addition to a wealth of automotive promotional literature, The Wolfsonian’s library also holds an archive of original automobile design sketches by Theodore “Ted” Pietsch II, a donation made by his son and namesake and facilitated by long-term supporter Frederic A. Sharf.

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The Wolfsonian–FIU, Gifts of T. W. Pietsch III, facilitated by Frederic A. Sharf

Ted Pietsch was a prolific designer and submitted sketches for many of the major American automobile companies in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. Even as domestic automobiles took a backseat to wartime production, Pietsch was sketching out some experimental designs for aerodynamic cars in anticipation of the war’s successful conclusion.

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The Wolfsonian–FIU, Gifts of T. W. Pietsch III, facilitated by Frederic A. Sharf

Over the course of his career, Pietsch made sketches for car exteriors, bumpers, grilles, consoles, and even submitted plans for hood ornaments.

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The Wolfsonian–FIU, Gift of T. W. Pietsch III, facilitated by Frederic A. Sharf

Some of Pietsch’s futuristic designs were adapted and adopted by automotive companies; others seem more likely to appear in some sci-fi thriller or Woody Allen’s comedy Sleeper than on the roads and highways of America anytime soon.

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The Wolfsonian–FIU, Gifts of T. W. Pietsch III, facilitated by Frederic A. Sharf

 

~ by "The Chief" on April 21, 2017.

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