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Car design and the female body shape

The fact that the shape of the packaging for a well-known soft drink should name a type of design on cars sounds like an American invention of the more self-glorifying kind. And even though this is popular knowledge, it makes sense.

You have probably come across the description Coke bottle design here at ViaRETRO before. We are talking about the famous Coca-Cola glass bottle with the characteristic hourglass shape – ie wide above the bosom, slim at the waist and again wide over the lower region. It is these lines that has given the name to the car design where the concept has also been used.

The hourglass shape is created by nature and it seems logical to put it in horizontal position, mount it with four wheels and then drive it away.

Apparently, it should be the famous american designer Raymond Loewy who first used the hourglass shape when he presented his Avanti design for Studebaker company in 1961. The Avanti model has in many places been an example of the design concept, as its Coke bottle lines appear clearly at certain angles. However, from other angles, the design may seem more angular and seems to lack the curves needed to have the Coke bottle design.

Studebaker Avanti at an angle where the Coke bottle design can be clearly seen.

In 1963 Buick followed up with the Riviera model. Now, all the US carmakers began issuing cars with the marked narrowing around the middle of the car.

Chevrolet also begins their work with the sculptural lines. In 1963, designer Bill Mitchell tries – gently – on Corvette Sting Ray. Chevrolet later take it all the way with the C3 and almost exaggerates the design direction of the Corvette in the late sixties, with the hourglass shape taken to the extremes.

With this Corvette model, the hourglass shape is extreme.

During the seventies, car designs in Europe and Japan had also begun to take the lines that seemed modern and gave the cars a dynamic look seriously. In Japan, Nissan was very excited about the design flow and used it on several of their models, but Toyota also diligently hit the wavy lines on the paper. Already in 1967 Toyota had borrowed the Coke bottle design when making the, now very famous sports car: GT 2000.

Toyota 2000 GT.

But with almost common sense of discretion taken by European designers, the Coke bottle design came on several models from Opel, Vauxhall and Ford. A clear inspiration from the American car brands.

Vauxhall Viva. Discreet, but the Coke bottle design is obvious.

One Response

  1. yrhmblhst

    “an American invention of the more self glorifying kind”?!? Really? And your label/description of the style would be… ?
    Yes, Coca Cola and the Coke bottle were/are American inventions – and I’m damned proud of both – yet both are known and loved worldwide ; the description is understood in all Western countries and many others also. It is apt. If thats self glorifying, then so be it.
    At least you did give one of the finer examples of the female form from which the Coke bottle derives its silhouette in the lead photo… but as she’s from the US, wouldnt that be more American self-glorification?


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