Opening Lecture: The Shape of Speed

June 17, 2018 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Behind the Headlights: Fascinating Tales of the Cars and Motorcycles in The Shape of Speed

Ken Gross, Guest Curator, The Shape of Speed

The 19 streamlined cars and motorcycles in The Shape of Speed span a fascinating time period from 1930-42. Despite the debts of the Great Depression and the looming threat of war, the U.S. and European automotive industry’s creativity and imagination was unparalleled at the time. Go behind the scenes to hear stories of the famous designers, talented engineers, and past and present owners of the vehicles that represent some of the most fascinating events in automotive history.

Purchase tickets


The Portland Art Museum is pleased to offer accommodations to ensure that our programs are accessible and inclusive. All spaces for this program are accessible by wheelchair. Assistive listening devices are also available for the lecture.
Please email 2-3 weeks in advance, or call 503-226-2811.

Stout Scarab, 1936. Photo: Peter Harholdt.
Stout Scarab, 1936. Photo: Peter Harholdt.
Aircraft designer William Bushnell Stout believed the use of lightweight, aircraft construction techniques could result in a streamlined, futuristic, faster and more economical car. He envisioned a startling shape—the result of a monocoque (unitized) chassis and body, with a rear-mounted powertrain. All four wheels were located at the corners of the vehicle, for a more spacious interior. The seats could be reconfigured; there was a folding table and a small divan. Stout’s Scarab anticipated the modern minivan.