Auto America: Car Culture, 1950s–1970s

Rizzoli. Oct. 2022. 224p. ISBN 9780847872749. $45. REF
Zimmerman (1927–2002) was a celebrated and gifted 20th-century photographer, recognized not only for his amazing photographs but also for innovative techniques and the ability to capture the true essence of his subjects, especially those in sports and popular culture. This work, curated by his three adult children, is a compilation of 200 photographs of Ford, Chrysler, and GM automobiles, captured by Zimmerman over the course of 30 years during the height of America’s fascination with cars, when automobiles often reflected the personality of their owners and were acknowledged for their style and flair. The introduction by former Time Inc. Sports Group editor Terry McDonell sets the tone of what’s to follow by expertly providing historical context behind the period’s infatuation with cars and a succinct analysis of Zimmerman’s craft and influence. The images, many that first appeared in Life, Time, and Sports Illustrated, are organized around the four themes of dreams, design, culture, and racing. They are stunning, with riveting angles, lighting, and color, easily justifying Zimmerman’s reputation as a master with a lens. Car shows, parades, dealerships, racetracks, assembly line workers, high-level executives, designers, and professional drivers are flawlessly captured and are accompanied by identifying captions and informative explication, although there is a lack of ethnic and racial diversity in the images. The beauty and classic lines of the cars are front and center, from the large tailfins of the Cadillac Eldorado to the exotic curves of Buick convertibles. At the same time, the accompanying text vividly reflects the vibe of the times and how the country was becoming more mobile and suburban.
VERDICT Fun to browse, this is an excellent collection of vintage pictures for car enthusiasts and anyone else with an interest in mid-20th-century American culture and photography.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing