The History of Automobile Styling from 1886-2021

Tuesday, January 18th 2022

10:30 AM - 11:30 AM

Morgan A, Morgan B, Morgan C

A 3-week hour long look into the History of Automobile Styling. We will trace the history if automobile styling from its horseless carriage beginnings through the decades of cultural and technological influences to its current state.


An automobile is probably the second most expensive thing you will ever buy. It, like so many of our things, is a reflection of who we are or whom we want others to think we are. Much of this is subconscious. Automobile manufacturers have become savvy to the motives of their customers and have learned how to tailor their offerings to ever more and smaller niche markets. Initially the car was a carriage that moved under its own power and that alone was good enough to create desire. As more and more offerings became available to ever more people, distinctions in an automobiles character started to develop. While most large manufacturers had to appeal to a wide range of potential buyers with “mass market” designs, the smaller manufacturers went after untapped markets that the bigger companies didn’t feel were large enough to bother with.


Designers are people of their time. And just like everyone else, are influenced by what has come before. They look at what is and try to envision ways it can be better. This involves change which is best done incrementally. Too much change is jarring and too little is boring. Major changes come when a given approach is not working and an incremental change on a failing concept will not be good enough.

Mr. Harkleroad holds a Bachelor of Industrial Design degree from Pratt Institute. He started his career as a designer for the Ford Motor Company and went on to work for several large consulting design firms and had his own design company for the last 13 years of a 40 year career