Forgotten Heroes

They rest beside the highways and by-ways, in junk yards and front yards, right across the United States, long-abandoned trucks and old jalopies, rusting relics - from the era of Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower, of Steinbeck, Harper Lee and Truman Capote - of an American Dream resurgent after World War Two and the Great Depression.

These vehicles once made things possible. They expanded horizons. They created opportunities where previously there were few. They connected farms to towns and towns to cities. Like the trains before them, they opened up a continent. They carried goods from factories, produce to markets, people to work or on holiday or on those classic road trips across the heartlands from sea to shining sea.  

They were once the pride of Detroit - Hudsons and Packards, Dodges and Studebakers - big, bold and brassy, eye-catching gas-guzzlers, unambiguous statements from an age when exuberant design triumphed over mundane considerations such as wind resistance, weight and fuel efficiency.

And then a crankshaft broke, a gasket blew or an axle snapped. Or the latest model came along and they lost their purpose. They were jettisoned, junked, abandoned to tumbleweed and bush, never to move again.

And now? Decades on, their original owners long dead, they have come full circle. They have become works of art once again, automotive sculptures, objects of unexpected beauty scattered randomly across the land.

Often their bumpers and number plates, wing-mirrors and windscreen wipers have long since vanished, leaving behind a sleek lined carapace with sensuous curves and intricate metalwork in a sumptuous design. 

Over time the elements have worn through the many layers of paintwork, turning bonnets into complex, multi-coloured canvases no human artist could hope to replicate.

Their chrome still shines, but their windscreens have cracked or shattered into exquisite spiders’ webs… some no doubt with the assistance of the local ne’er do wells’ projectiles.

Where their headlights have survived, they stare out at the modern world like pairs of unblinking eyes. These vehicles possess other human traits too. They are masculine and feminine, elegant and lumbering, modest and jaunty, solemn and ever so faintly comical. Unlike most of the vehicles made today, they exude personality.