Thursday, 12 April 2012

Coca-Cola and cars

The sale of an Avanti coupé that belonged to designer of the Coca-Cola bottle and the Greyhound Bus

In this morning’s Mail Online there was a piece about how Bonhams are to sell a 1958 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud I two-seat drophead coupé with a guide price of £1,000,000 at a forthcoming auction in Monaco. As it looked quite so spectacular, I decided to look up what else was on offer.

Immediately, on viewing the Bonhams website, I was drawn to an article about a car named an Avanti that also happened to have been previously owned by its own designer, Raymond Loewy. It was a vehicle I had not heard of and nor did I have prior knowledge of Loewy himself. I was very glad I decided to look into this intriguing man in further depth as what I found was fascinating.

Raymond Loewy (1893 – 1986)

Raymond Loewy, known as “The Father of Streamlining,” it transpires, was a man who was responsible for the design of many brands, vehicles, liveries and logos in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Amongst them were Air Force One’s distinctive blue, white and chrome livery; steam and electric locomotives for the Pennsylvania Railroad; logos for the Shell Oil Company, Greyhound, Nabisco and Exxon; the Electrolux L300 refrigerator; Lucky Strike’s white cigarette packaging in 1942 and the interior of the first Boeing 307 Stratoliner for Howard Hughes.

The redesign of the Coca-Cola bottle in the 1950s, however, marked the milestone of his career. Loewy, who some falsely attribute with the original design, eliminated Coca-Cola’s embossing and added the vivid white Coke/Coca-Cola lettering. He oversaw the inception of larger bottles for the range and in 1960 also produced the design for the first Coke steel can.

Raymond Loewy’s Coca-Cola bottle

Another of Loewy’s great successes was the design of the GMC PD-4501 Scenicruiser which was manufactured exclusively for Greyhound Lines. This 43-seat two-level coach was said to be “symbolic of the American way of life” in the 1950s and 1960s.

A 40ft Greyhound Lines PD-4501 Scenicruiser designed by Raymond Loewy. Introduced in July 1954, 1001 were made between 1954 and 1956. Many of the surviving Scenicruisers have been converted into motor-homes in recent years.

In the automobile sector, Loewy worked on the design of the Studebaker Commander in 193 and the Studebaker Avanti in 1963 for Sherwood Egbert and the Studebaker Corporation. The latter vehicle was said to be: “one of the more significant milestones of the postwar industry.”

A black 1972 Avanti II coupé owned by Loewy himself is included in the forthcoming Bonhams auction. The vehicle was sent directly from the Avanti Corporation in Indiana via New York to Loewy’s Paris home in 1972. It was one of only a handful of Avantis exported to France.

Of it, Robert Glover of Bonhams comments:

"Loewy is a legendary figure in the world of design and whilst the Coca-Cola bottle is probably his most famous, the number of iconic 20th century designs he created is astonishing. We expect interest in this car not only from established car collectors but also from collectors of 20th Century design."

Various views of the 1972 Avanti II coupé that Raymond Loewy both designed and owned (© Bonhams 2001 – 2012)

A guide price of €30,000 to €50,000 has been set for the car at the “Les Grandes Marques à Monaco” auction that will be held under the patronage of the Grimaldi family at the Musée des Voitures du Prince on the 11th May 2012. The auction coincides with the 7th bi-annual Monaco Historic Grand Prix.

Of his career, Loewy commented:

“I can say of myself, that I have made the mundane side of the 20th century more beautiful.”

He certainly achieved just that.

For more information contact Alexandra Heffler of Bonhams on +44 (0) 20 7468 8210 or email Auction details and catalogue will be released in due course at:

Follow Bonhams on Twitter at:

Visit the official website of Raymond Loewy at:


Christina said...

Thanks for sharing this. I'd never heard of this man either. What a life. They don't make them like this anymore, do they?

Glenda said...

You always enlighten. Thank you.

Brett said...

The 50's greyhound looks surprisingly modern. The Avanti looks good from the front, but not so much from the rear.