Loewy's left-field take on design greats

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Author: Mick WalshPublished:

Raymond Loewy is a legend in design history, but the man who helped shape such iconic works as the Greyhound bus,  spectacular streamlined Pennsylvania Railroad locomotives, Coke bottle, Lucky Strike cigarette packet, and one of the most beautiful American cars – the Studebaker Starliner – had strange aesthetic judgements when it came to restyling his own cars. 

It takes a bold personality to think you can improve on such all-time beautiful sports cars as the Lancia Flaminia, BMW 507, and XK Jaguar, but the extrovert French-born industrial designer had different ideas.

For a man who criticised American car design as "jukeboxes on wheels" his range of gold-painted custom road cars seemed to contradict his studio's pure design philosophy.

Loewy's bizarre Lancia Loraymo has hints of the Avanti in its overall profile, but there's some very weird ideas about lights, spoiler, and unsightly extended grille. The car was debuted at the 1960 Paris Motor Show and, like all his personal cars, was then driven around Europe. 

The fussy design contrasts dramatically with the Starliner, which is now largely attributed to Robert E Bourke, while the Avanti was possibly more influenced by young team member Tom Kellogg, a ex-student fresh from the LA Art Center. But Loewy always had a knack for spotting gifted designers.

This week another little-known Loewy custom, a '66 Jaguar E-Type coupé came out of hiding to be auctioned at Bonhams in Monterey, California. 

What Sir Williams Lyons or Malcolm Sayer made of the bizarre restyling isn't recorded, but you can imagine the Browns Lane design department having a long laugh down the local. Modifications included enlarged grille, frenched Corvair tail-lights, splayed out twin exhaust pipes and Loewy's signature roof spoiler.

This was the famous designer's second Jaguar creation. The first, based on an XK140 was built by Boano and destroyed in a fire in 1957. The E-Type was modified by Pinchon-Parat of Sens, France. 

Still in its original gold, the E-type has been hidden away for the past 40 years in the garage of architect and designer James Murry Hunt who once studied under Loewy.

Loewy wasn't alone, of course. Quite a few designers couldn't resist the challenge of reworking the E-type, including Pietro Frua, customiser George Barris, and later William Towns, but all prove conclusively to me that it's "better to leave well alone".

Eagle's latest Speedster is a very sexy reworking of Sayer's masterpiece, but if I had to have a custom E-type it would be a replica of the hearse built for 1971 movie Harold and Maude. Just imagine driving that around Monterey this weekend, and on to the lawn at Pebble Beach for the special E-type class!

Comments

julianem

I suggest he should have spent more time with Mrs Loewy.

Pre 80s TVR

It has always amazed me how Loewy could be a genius with his own designs and totally mess up other peoples.
For a guy whose biography was called "Never leave well enough alone" it is amazing it is a shame he didn't follow this motto..

Oliver.

TVR Car Club Pre80s Editor

Chris Martin

I have long been a fan of Loewy and have placed a new thread on the forum to see if anyone else has any of his designs to post.
Chris M.

 

elvacar

the Harold and Maude car should have been a contender

and then promptly driven off the cliff to the bay below

DOn't get me wrong I still like the car and I still cringe at the moment the Jag goes airborn

PaulJ

I was going to write nothing, but I'll simply state it  :  I'm speechless.

williamcorke

Pichon-Parat didn't need Loewy's help to 'improve' an elegant car to the point of uglyness as their Lancia Aurelia B20 from 1956 demonstrates:

http://svammelsurium.blogg.se/images/2011/1956-lancia-aurelia-b20gt-pich...

James Elliott

William, thanks to that picture, I am tempted to press the "flag as offensive" button for your comment!

Group Editor, C&SC

Martin Bellinger

This Jaguar was owned by my former father-in-law, Jerry Coffey; and it was he who sold it on to Mr Murry Hunt. He has several photos of the car whilst in his care and is still to this day very enthusiastic about it.

 

I appreciate that the looks are an acquired tatste but it is unique and in that sense a piece of important motoring history. I have contacted Mr Coffey and bought this article and the cars' recent sale to his attention. I am sure that he would be willing to pass on any relevant history or anecdotes to the new owner.

Martin

Martin Bellinger

This Jaguar was owned by my former father-in-law, Jerry Coffey; and it was he who sold it on to Mr Murry Hunt. He has several photos of the car whilst in his care and is still to this day very enthusiastic about it.

 

I appreciate that the looks are an acquired tatste but it is unique and in that sense a piece of important motoring history. I have contacted Mr Coffey and bought this article and the cars' recent sale to his attention. I am sure that he would be willing to pass on any relevant history or anecdotes to the new owner.

Martin

Martin Bellinger

Update:

I received another email just now and the new owner of the car has made contact with my former father in law and they have swapped stories and pictures etc.

It is always nice when new owners can retrace their cars history in this way and C&S will be pleased to know that Micks' blog in a small way facilitated this.

My former father in law Jerry Coffey saw the car advertised in the International Herald Tribune in early 1968 and contacted Raymond Loewy's Paris office. A deal was agreed there and then between them. Jerry sold the car in late '69 to Mr Murry Hunt. This is fascinating car and story and I am so pleased that it will be restored.

Thanks again.

 

Martin

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