Driving the American Dream: 1970s Car Design

June 15 – September 8, 2024  

We have turned our main gallery into a retro car emporium for the exhibition, Driving the American Dream: 1970s Car Design. This journey back to the 1970s showcases the distinctive car designs that emerged during a pivotal era in American automotive history.

The 1960s marked an unprecedented time in automotive innovation, with American car companies vying for supremacy in horsepower, size, and luxury. But the flamboyance of the '60s gave way to a less prosperous decade influenced by Watergate, fiscal stagnation, and the energy crisis. By the early 1970s, U.S. government regulations on fuel economy and emissions forced American automakers to downsize their models and reduce horsepower.

“The 1970s were years of general malaise for the U.S. automotive industry,” said Cory Komberec, curator of the exhibition. “Asian and European cars were already smaller, more efficient, and generally better-built than their U.S. counterparts, so sales of American cars slumped.”

Driving the American Dream is a showroom-sized retrospective of '70s cars, now appreciated as true classics and iconic symbols of an era deeply ingrained in America's collective consciousness. 

Featured Cars

  • 1969 Mercury Cougar XR7 convertible
  • 1969 Lincoln Continental Mark III
  • 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle convertible
  • 1971 Dodge Charger
  • 1972 DeTomaso Pantera
  • 1972 Volkswagen Super Beetle
  • 1973 Mercury Cougar XR7
  • 1974 Datsun 240Z

Roll through the MAC before September 8th to experience the art and history of 1970s cars. And listen to our Driving the American Dream playlist on Spotify.

Buy tickets now

Exhibition curator and photography by Cory Komberec.

Exhibition design by local artist Chris Bovey.


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