“A lot of people criticize Formula One as an unnecessary risk. But what would life be like if we only did what is necessary?”
– Niki Lauda, 1975, 1977, 1984 Formula One World Champion
36 1/4 x 51 in./92.2 x 129.5 cm
This gorgeous work of art isn’t just one of the earliest Auto Show posters we’ve ever seen; it’s announcing the first major auto race in world history. (A year earlier, competitors had raced from Turin to Asti, just 90 km; Paris-Bordeaux-Paris was a round trip of 1,200 km – an entirely different challenge.) Above, the Grand Palais and the Eiffel Tower loom over the Seine; below, a parade of early autos passes by the Garonne.
14 3/8 x 20 in./35.5 x 50.8 cm
The meaning of a full-service pit stop was a little different, and a lot more lenient, in the early days of motoring – at least according to this undated, unsigned, unlettered (but gorgeously illustrated) poster. The auto looks similar to several makes produced between 1906 and 1908, leading to the provisional date we have listed. Note: even though traffic lights hadn’t been invented and the top speed for a consumer production car during this time was roughly 45 mph, mixing beer and driving is still not a very good idea – but an astonishingly transgressive image, nonetheless.
46 5/8 x 61 1/2 in./118.5 x 156.2 cm
This absolute monster of a chassis, careening out of a Tricoleur sky, bounding along with wheels in the air appears to be a hybrid of the 1913 and the 1916 Peugeots, which each won the Indianapolis 500: the wishbone front suspension is 1916; the configuration of the chassis, more 1913; but the actual artifacts have a slight upward curve as the hoods reach the steering wheel. Instead, Vincent decided to streamline the car into a totem of power and speed, making the drivers nearly invisible behind the gargantuan engine block.
45 1/2 x 51 3/8 in./115.5 x 155.8 cm
Nothing inspired a European’s awe for the American project like the sight of a skyscraper. Cardinaux captured and projected that awe in the form of the Fisher Building of Detroit, designed by master architect Albert Klein, as a backdrop for the ghostly 6-cylinder Chevrolet to whoosh through, on behalf of a French audience. (The model of this Chevy is not printed, but Crouse identifies it as a Chevrolet Confederate.) Interestingly, it’s not the Chevrolet Headquarters featured in the image – which were located directly across the street from the Fisher Building. Perhaps, instead, this was a nod of gratitude to the Fishers: Chevy bought Fisher Body (a coachbuilding system that accelerated auto manufacturing), and that financed the construction of the skyscraper. Chevys had been sold in France since the early 1920s.
Just try to avoid falling in love with this pitch-perfect example of Mid-Century Modern design for the German car-radio manufacturer Blaupunkt. The brand name was originally founded as “Ideal” in 1923; in 1938, it changed its name in reference to the “blue point” or “blue dot” affixed to its headphones that had passed quality control. The KMMML on the pushbuttons refer to radio wavelengths. Blaupunkt, sadly, entered bankruptcy in 2015 and was liquidated in 2016, leaving wonderful posters like this as a memory of its audio-tech precision.