NYC window displays visions of the automotive future

This article originally appeared on, written by Larry Edsall, on December 16, 2016

If you happen to be in New York City doing your holiday shopping, be sure to hustle over to 432 Park Avenue to see a very special window display.

Curated by Michael Shanks, a professor from Stanford University’s Center for Design Research, and presented in conjunction with the Historic Vehicle Association, the display takes a look at three visions of the automotive future as it has been perceived from the very dawn of the automobile age.

432 Park Avenue view, but only through Today

“Disruption!” is the unifying theme for the three vehicles:

  • An 1896 Benton Harbor, the first automobile built in Michigan and, at its time, not only disruptive but a revolutionary means of transportation.
  • The 1956 GM Firebird II, which represented General Motors’ vision for a future in which cars, in this particular case powered by a gas turbine engine, drove themselves guided by road maps and a communications system displayed on television screens on the dashboard.
  • The 2016 Shell Concept Car, designed by Gordon Murray for Geo Technology and Shell to be the world’s most efficient internal combustion car, a compact and nimble city vehicle capable of 89 miles per gallon when tooling around town.
60 years separate each of the three vehicles

“New York City went from horses to horseless in less than 15 years,” the HVA said in its news release about the display.

“Disruption in automobility is again on the agenda.  Will we be safer with driverless cars as first envisioned 60 years ago?  Will we love cars with less weight and less room that use far less energy? How will companies collaborate to realize the power of less?  These are some of the questions to contemplate as we face dramatic changes in The Future of Automobility.”

If you want to see the display, you need to be quick. The cars were put into the window on Wednesday and will be there only through Monday.