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The Motion exhibition brings together unique prototypes for the history of the automobile in Bilbao

In the Motion exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, enough materials are gathered to explain the influence of the automobile in the modern world as well as the evolution of the industrial design that sculpts them. In this sense, some of these unique prototypes have been arranged that have significantly marked the future of their time. Some so spectacular and strange to be able to admire like the Lancia Stratos Zero or the Pegaso Z-102 Cupula.

Normally, when you think of technology, something very innovative comes to mind. Some next-generation component, machine or design with signs of being part of the space race. However, the truth is that -in general terms- any transformation produced for certain practical purposes can be considered technology. In this way, prehistoric humanity already created material culture by colliding two stones with the aim of obtaining a cutting edge.

Thus, in a fully unconscious way, a long walk began where, today, spaceships are inserted. A process exemplified visually by Stanley Kubrick. Who in 2001: A Space Odyssey traces a simple thread between the hominids -discovering how to alter their environment using a bone as a tool- and future humanity -thrown into the arms of space exploration-. Understanding this we can understand and value the importance of design.

And it is that we have lived surrounded by it since the times in which our ancestors decorated weapons and caves. However, even in the XXI century it seems to be necessary continue claiming industrial design as a discipline perfectly comparable to the rest of the arts. Limited by the fact that here form must follow function. But absolutely necessary to understand the way we develop our societies.

Room with four of the unbeatable legends for classic sports design

In this sense, the exhibition Motion, Cars, Art, Architecture emphasizes the importance of motorsports in the recent history of humanity. Explaining how this has generated a revolutionary process for the way in which we interact with the environment, also giving a good collection of icons related to industrial design. For all this, this sample commissioned by British architect Norman Foster It should be a meeting point for all fans. From those who see motorsports as an industry with socio-economic implications to those who simply want to admire some of the best automotive design exercises in history.


Star museums like the Guggenheim Bilbao run the risk of falling into the same paradox as some supposedly sports cars. Very striking due to its bodywork as a design exercise, but little endowed inside as it has very normal mechanics. Nevertheless, for the Motion exhibition they have made a great effort with the aim of giving an encyclopedic overview of the history of automotive design. In this way, the coexistence in its catalog of the 1886 Benz Motorwagen with an F1 of the same brand produced in the recent 2020 stands out.

An interesting relationship with which to see the technical evolution of motorsports, narrated through various thematic rooms that go from the beginning to the future. Specially treated in the Future space, where various schools of design address the intersection between mobility issues, urbanism and the automobile. However, what fans of the classics are waiting for can be found in the Visionaires, Sculptures or Beginnings rooms. The places where some of the best and most iconic samples of unique pieces created throughout the history of motorsports are contextualized.


Something very interesting happens with industrial design. And it is that, with the passage of time, even the most visionary ends up being old while undoubtedly preserving a large part of that modernism. Thus, the label "retrofuturism”. Which can well be applied to the most impressive classic models among all those housed in the Motion sample. To begin with, one of the models that best represents this idea is a national model, although it was brought from the museum in the Netherlands where it is kept. We talk about Pegasus Z-102 Dome.

The Cupola is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating Pegaso Z-102

One of the "stickers” more conspicuous. Designed at ENASA by Agustí Masgrau. A young employee at the La Sagrera factory who devised this particular spatial vision in 1953, moving away from the lines set by Touring or Saoutchik for the Z-102.

Undoubtedly one of those spectacular flashes of industrial design that were never repeated. Well, although it may seem incredible after devising such a car, it is very complex to trace the traces of Masgrau's career. Continuing in the world of voluptuous volumes and the curve in Motion, you can also see a 57 Bugatti Type1936SC Atlantic. One of the most striking bodies for pre-war motoring. Staging the growing importance of aerodynamics in forms sculpted by the sensation of movement.

Sculpted in the wind tunnel, this Alfa Romeo BAT has all the charm of the space age

And continuing with the aerodynamic study at the service of design, mention of the Alfa Romeo BAT 7 from 1954. One of the three prototypes created by Franco Scaglione under the baton of Bertone. Starting from trying to reach the lowest aerodynamic coefficient possible together with a clear influence of the fins devised by Virgil Exner in America. However, looking for the most effective penetration in the air we cannot leave aside the Lancia Stratos Zero. One of the greatest geniuses of Marcello Gandini, which happens to be part of the basic creations to understand the so-called "wedge design revolution".

In addition, the Guggenheim's Motion exhibition includes the Firebird I, II and III prototypes from General Motors. As well as numerous models and objects related to the history of automotive design. With all that, it is worth approaching Bilbao before September 18 to admire this selection of models. Where not a few of these prototypes seen a thousand and one times in magazines are included, although very, very few, in reality.

Photographs: Unai Ona

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Written by Miguel Sánchez

Through the news from La Escudería, we will travel the winding roads of Maranello listening to the roar of the Italian V12; We will travel Route66 in search of the power of the great American engines; we will get lost in the narrow English lanes tracking the elegance of their sports cars; We will speed up the braking in the curves of the Monte Carlo Rally and we will even get dusty in a garage while rescuing lost jewels.


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