The Shape of Speed

We visited the Portland Oregon Art Museum on 22 July 2018. Their featured exhibit until mid-September is called The Shape of Speed. The exhibit featured rare streamlined automobiles and motorcycles from 1930–1942 that looked like they were moving fast even while at rest. Some of the vehicles are highlighted below starting with a BMW, R7 Concept Motorcycle from 1934. It was in a German show in 1934, crated up, then lost until 2005. BMW craftsmen restored it. Click any image in this post for larger more detailed views.

The designs of the cars were gorgeous. The shapes were streamlined giving the impression of speed and motion. This Stout Scarab from 1936 had seats could be reconfigured, a folding table, and a small couch. The modern minivan has roots in this car.

Stout Scarab

Just inside the front door of the museum was this Graham ‘Sharknose’ Coupe. It gave a strong impression to the visitors.

Several others were placed around the main floor of the museum. I would be happy to drive any of them around town.

The last one and my favorite is this green Lincoln-Zephyr coupe with a V-12 engine. Conceived by Edsel Ford, the design was introduced for the 1936 model year.


12 thoughts on “The Shape of Speed

  1. shoreacres

    There’s a motorcycle museum out in the hill country. I’ve never been inside, but there always are a lot of bikes parked in the lot. And every year there’s a classic car/wooden boat show at the yacht club where I do most of my work — but I’ve never seen anything quite like these cars in the show. There are some fancy ones, and some very old ones, but these are intriguing. I like the Scarab best, I think. (I wonder if I could get that in red?)

  2. Mrs. P

    Love the Sharknose, though I’d never drive it. Rick and I just finished watching The Cars That Made America and which showcased Edsel’s car. I really enjoyed learning more about him…quite brilliant and ahead of his time in many ways. Though my favorite “ahead of his time” automaker was Tucker. We got to see one at the National Auto Museum in Reno…all I can say is WOW!

      1. Mrs. P

        Yes, we saw the movie, it was some time ago and it was what made us want to go see a Tucker. When we discovered there was one in Reno, only a few hours from where we lived at the time it became a must see visit.

  3. Jim Wheeler

    Makes me think of my very first car, a 1938 Plymouth 2-door my dad bought me while in high school. It had a one-piece windshield (flat, but still one-piece) and three on the floor. I felt so independent!


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