The Key

Symbols and dreams

In The Key 2020, the charm of the symbols that characterize the American cars in Nicola Bulgari’s collection

Photo credit: Sam Maven

We tend not to notice the many small and not-so-small details that make one car different to the next. Often, they are details that reflect the period the car was built in. Dashboards, for example, or exterior decorations that distinguish the particular brand and model, are the offspring of technologies of the time or safety rules. In The Key 2020, which will be available in time for Christmas and available to order, in softback or digital versions, from mid-December, you will find a very interesting story about how much details have influenced the American dream of the automobile, thanks to a delightful interview with Nicola Bulgari about his magnificent collection of cars made in the USA in the 30s, 40s and 50s. Dashboards, for example, are analogue and reflect the design tastes of the period: initially Deco, then timidly modern. Just as interesting are the ornaments and symbols that adorned the grilles. Figurines or elegant adornments that, unfortunately, have been banned by strict safety laws (only Rolls Royce maintains its winged victory with the famous Spirit of ecstasy, but with a system that makes it disappear instantly on contact… now that’s class!).

The cormorant of the 1937 Packard 120 Eight Darrin Convertible Victoria appears with these magnificently decorated wings as opposed to the traditional spread ones
This glass rooster head on the radiator of the Cord L-29 Brougham is an authentic work of art
Rolls-Royce’s classic Spirit of Ecstasy on this 1937 Phantom III Freestone & Webb Sedanca de Ville is in copper, as is the radiator
Retro elegance for the dashboard of the 1946 Lincoln Continental
With the Desoto model, Chrysler references the Art Deco–style so magnificently celebrated on the Chrysler Building skyscraper in New York
At the end of the 1940s, the Americans made a powerful leap forward with their interior styles: here the dashboard of the Corvette C1