Art on Wheels …


Team US Nomads will be driving a lighly modified Jeep Wrangler during the 2014 Rallye Aicha des Gazelles. While the choice of vehicle for a desert crossing is based on capabilities and technical considerations, we can’t help but take a moment to reflect on the esthetics…


Europeans, pointing to the environmentally unfriendly S.U.V.s and the old “gas guzzlers,” often mock the American love affair with cars. Yet, “classic” car imagery has endured in the popular definition of what is “American.” Think 50’s-era tail fins, muscle cars, big Cadillacs, pickup trucks — even Jeeps like ours. These vehicles were part of the “American Dream” — more than a mode of transportation, for many they became a reflection of a lifestyle, embodiments of power, speed and beauty.

Modern aerodynamically-influenced art on wheels, these iconic vehicles expressed the optimism that characterized the 20th century American spirit. The freedom of the road. The freedom to become whatever you want to be. The American Dream itself…

CARS AS EXPRESSIONS OF STYLE


With shiny chrome and curves all over, American cars came of age in the 1950s, and their unique designs were inspired by the excitement of the jet age. Sleek futuristic styling turned rather mundane family cars into works of art, with wings, turbines, and after-burner tail lights.

Later, in the 1960s, “muscle cars” made their first appearance on the highways — these vehicles were all about power, speed and sheer engine size (Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Charger are among the most famous). Their distinctive designs incorporated vents that often served no purpose other than to hint at the giant V8s lurking under the hood. Raw power was reflected in the muscular shapes, twin exhausts and racing stripes.

At some point it seemed the car you drove became a reflection of your personality, and people often customized their vehicles further, making them into personal statements.

THE JEEP


The Jeep isn’t a classic in the “muscle car” sense, but its certainly an “American icon.” With utilitarian good looks that have been recognized by museum curators, the vehicle remains celebrated in popular culture. As early as 1951, The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York included a Jeep 4×4 in its automotive “works of art” display. MOMA curators described the Jeep as a masterpiece of functionalist design and an example of aesthetic excellence, functional capability, historical significance, practicality, and affordability combined.

There are few places you can’t get to in a Jeep. It is a one-of-a-kind vehicle: an extreme off-road convertible with the on-road handling and ride of a comfortable (mostly) touring car. The current model was completely redesigned in 2007, maintaining the traditional Jeep styling cues but with added comfort and capabilities, making it the perfect choice for a road trip or an off-road desert adventure…

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