“They don’t make them like this anymore…”
That is a phrase I must have heard uttered over a dozen times during the weekend of the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance by people gazing at the magnificent pre-war automobiles on display. And they definitely don’t make cars like these anymore. In fact, most manufacturers of these majestic machines have long been defunct. The likes of Duesenberg, Packard, Minerva and Delage are all absent from the vocabulary of modern automobillia, and it’s a real shame because the cars they made were nicer (relatively) than even the top-of-the line Rolls Royce today.
In fact, as I’ve said before, Rolls Royce is really the only company from this era that still makes the same type of cars today as it did back then. Cadillac and Mercedes-Benz still exist, but have both moved their base of operation far down market. Yes, the pre-war era was a different time, when the automobile was a blank canvass for craftsmen to as they pleased. There was a lot of art-for-art-sake in these cars, and that’s something that is mostly absent from modern cars now that accountants and health and safety people run the show.
So the relative gray-scale of the cars we know today makes ogling over these pre-war gems an activity to be savored. I am really hoping for a renaissance of creativity in the auto industry, where the artistry will come back and add to all of the modern technology and design. The cookie-cutter designs of modern cars have gotten extremely old, and a design that aims to please anyone is also boring to everyone. So I’ve got my fingers crossed.
For now, though, just enjoy gazing at these incredible pre-war machines. The attention to detail, and the sheer craftsmanship is simply breathtaking to behold. Enjoy the cars!
-Photos by Nick Walker