First, let me be clear that I’m a big Raymond Loewy fan. The man was an exceptional designer, and helped define the entire genre of industrial design. In addition, he went with buggy in an ascot and suede loafers. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t make some big enough moves, and let’s be honest: Raymond loved Raymond. That’s what led me to think it was a little narcissistic to come to terms with a Soviet home-built vehicle. I would probably explain.
It all started when, the other day, I saw this post on the wonderful Instagram feed for TheLoveAndHatredOfTheCar:
I knew that car, and that picture very well, even though it was the first time I saw it in color.
You see, in Raymond Loewy’s wonderful 1979 book Industrial Project, there is a small photo of a fascinating home car seen in Moscow in 1974. The car is built by a couple of motorcycles, side-by-side, and some fairly elaborate manual bodywork. Loewy’s episode of the snapshot reads:
Loewy says the car was “most likely inspired by the Avants”, referring to the beautiful sports car Studebaker Loewy and his team designed. Even when I saw this picture decades ago, I thought Loewy was full of shit.
I mean, yes, it looks like a Forward, but mostly because of the smooth face, without the face grille and the big round lights, which can be further explained by the fact that mechanically, it doesn’t need a grille, big round lights were by far the most readily available to anyone building a home in the Soviet Union at this time.
For reference, here is a Next:
I think the Avantis is an impressive and enjoyable design, and certainly a worthy model if you have to pair a car with a pair of Soviet motorcycles, but I’m not alone in buying that unknown and experienced tinkerer who built that thing was also knowledgeable of Avantis.
Things weren’t even super common in America: what are the odds that someone would encounter one in the Soviet Union in the 1970s? Rather minimal.
However, there are some similarities – the curves of the mudguards and the waist, the overall shape of the roof, and, yes, the front end without grid, but I think they are random coincidences more than a deliberate attempt to make a samizdat Go ahead. .
Maybe I’m wrong? What do you think? Was it the work of a certain dedicated Loewy fan, or was Ray-Ray’s ego just slashing plans with a story he liked?
It is important, now more than ever, to decide that. I will be sure Loewy Summer is informed of our consensus.