The New American Car Design

Detroit decides to get dressed for success

Remember when Detroit was the epicenter of cool cars? From the postwar exuberance of tail-finned Cadillacs and aircraft-inspired Buicks, to the thrilling muscle cars of the '60s, Motown set the tone for automotive style. Then, just like that, the magic disappeared. From boxy look-alikes to bland, aerodynamic cars, domestic auto makers were rarely on the cutting edge during the 1980s and '90s. Design leadership was ceded to European auto makers: the powerful grace of BMW and Audi sports sedans, the muscular tautness of Porsche, the cute-as-a-bug Volkswagen Beetle, and the sleek, elegant Jaguar.

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