The Art of the Automobile – Masterpieces of the Ralph Lauren Collection

Beauty and utility combine in Ralph Lauren’s newly curated collection of classic high-profile sports cars. The collection, curated by Rodolphe Rapetti, showcases 17 rare and prestigious sports cars manufactured and designed between the 1930s and 1990s. The Art of the Automobile: Masterpieces of the Ralph Lauren Collection aims to portray the evolution of car design in the 20th century, presenting the automobile as a work of art and not just a method of transportation. The exhibit, which will be presented at The Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Paris, France through August 28 has been designed by sceneographer Jean-Michel Wilmotte.

It captures the most innovative, elegant and powerful cars of the past century, represented by brands such as Bugatti, Alfa Romeo, Bentley, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Aston Martin, Porsche and Ferrari. Stars like Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Sophia Loren, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and Glen Ford have driven these cars, as well as Award winning drivers Rodger Penske, Augie Pabst, Richie Ginther, and Jackie Stewart. Each car in the collection has been designed and backed by some of the most reputable aristocrats and highly regarded automotive designers in the world.

1955 Porsche 550 Spyder

This car, extrapolated from the Porsche 356 and Volkswagen Beetle, is easy on the eyes and perfect for a high-energy afternoon drive to the races. As one of the first competition Porsches ever made, the Spyder is a light, open sports car, meant to be fast and easy to handle. James Dean passed away in this car on the way to a sports car race in California.

1956/1958 Jaguar XKSS

In 1956, Jaguar decided to halt its production of racing cars, but with 25 D Types unsold, Briggs Cunningham convinced the company to convert them into sports cars instead. Jaguar decided to do this by removing the rear fin and center division between the passenger and driver and adding a passenger door, windscreen, side windows, folding top, luggage rack, and bumpers. When the cars were being altered at the manufacturer, however, a massive fire broke out after only 16 cars had been completed. The car on display is one of the original two D Types that were salvaged from the fire.

1933 Bugatti Type 59 Grand Prix

This modest and graceful car is considered by some to be the most beautiful racing car ever produced. Its long beveled rear, famous spoked wheels and streamlined body give it an elegant and appealing appearance. Only eight cars of this model have been built.

1996 McLaren LM

This car owes part of its name to the success it received at the Le Mans (LM) race in 1995. At this race, five of the cars placed — one in 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 13th — which lead to production of the five car F1 LM series. A sixth car in this series was created as a prototype to honor famous race-car designer, driver, engineer and inventor, Bruce McLaren. The car is painted papaya orange in his memory and features a 12-cylinder V engine from BMW with 691 HP. This record-breaking car accelerates from 0 to 100 mph in 5.9 seconds. This car inspired the contemporary look of the RL-CF1 Chair.

1958 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa

Sergio Scaglietti, one of Ferrari’s most talented coachbuilders, designed the Testa Rossa with his signature style — a long chassis with a torpedo-like body, a headrest emerging from the bodywork and streamlined headlamps. The car, Testa Rossa or “red head,” gets its name from the red camshaft covers of the V12 engine.

For a peek at the rest of Ralph Lauren’s timeless machines click here for the full Haute Living article.