The Marmon Sixteen. Marmon Motor Car Company. Indianapolis: Marmon Motor Car Co. (ca. 1930) Smithsonian Libraries.

Beauty & Efficiency

The progressive and innovative design and mechanics of the Marmon Sixteen – a custom-made, sixteen cylinder automobile manufactured in 1931 by the Indianapolis Marmon Motor Car Co. are promoted in this two volume publication.  The book details the theories and goals of the head designer, Walter Dorwin Teague (1883-1960), and the engineer, Howard C. Marmon (1876-1943), and how they collaborated to create what was billed as “The World’s Most Advanced Motor Car” of its time.  After receiving a degree in engineering, Marmon began working for The Marmon Manufacturing Company, a firm known for producing factory equipment, that was established by his father in the 19th century.  From 1902 and continuing up the 1930s, Marmon developed a limited series of experimental air-cooled V twin, V6 and V8 engines for cars, which were known for their reliability and speed.

In the second volume of this set entitled The Marmon Sixteen from the notes of the engineer, Marmon lauds the remarkable qualities of the model featuring a light-weight aluminum alloy 200 horsepower engine, sixteen steel cylinders, large water cooling and filtration mechanisms, and reinforced chassis and suspension systems.  He contends that the Marmon 16 provides the highest level of performance, is speedy with quick acceleration, can be driven for more than 100,000 miles, and is the “easiest riding car in the world.”

Marmon collaborated with the father and son team of Walter Dorwin Teague and W.Dorwin Teague (1910-2004) on the design of this car.  Teague the elder was considered one of the great pioneers of American industrial design, known for package and product designs for such firms as Kodak and exhibition work at the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair.  In the first volume entitled: The Marmon Sixteen from the notes of the Designer, he reflects on the interrelationship of beauty and efficiency saying “No man-made thing ever gained efficiency at the expense of beauty.  For as anything becomes more efficient, it naturally becomes more beautiful.”  For Teague, beauty was equated with the modern streamline style which was employed in the Marmon Sixteen.  The streamline body curves,  V-shaped grill, slender fenders and elimination of  hood ornamentation contributed to the aerodynamic efficiency of the vehicle and conveyed the aesthetic of power, speed and modernity. 

Marmon Sixteen Model

Automobile Model: Marmon Sixteen. Designed by Walter Dorwin Teague and Walter Dorwin Teague, Jr. Fabricated by Boucher, 1930. Gift of Walter Dorwin Teague, Jr. 1977-71-1.

These two volumes provide an interesting and informative account of the collaboration between the designer and the engineer.    390 Marmon Sixteen automobiles in eight body styles were manufactured from 1931-1933.  

 

 

Museum Number: 
Smithsonian Libraries. CHMRB TL215.M352.M352 Volumes 1 and 2