A new exhibition has been set up at the V&A Museum in London, celebrating the role of the car as a catalyst for change over the past 130 years. Open until April 19 next year, ‘Cars: Accelerating the Modern World’ was planned for two years and now features exhibits from around the world, some not seen in the UK before.

Showcasing 15 cars and 250 objects across three main sections, the exhibition examines how the car changed our relationship to speed, its effect on the way we make and sell, and how it altered the landscape around us. The vehicles on display range from the first-ever production car, the 1888 Benz Patent Motorwagen 3, through to the 2018 ‘Pop-Up Next’ autonomous flying car concept co-designed by Italdesign, Airbus and Audi. Other concepts include General Motors’ Firebird I from 1953, which is essentially a gas-turbine plane on wheels, plus Ford’s nuclear-powered concept of 1957, the Nucleon.

V&A Museum

Concepts on display include the General Motors Firebird I from 1953.

The other display cars all represent models that made a significant social and economic impact throughout the 20th century. They include a 1925 Ford Model T, a 1927 General Motors LaSalle Roadster and a streamlined Tatra T77 from 1934. While the Model T saw the introduction of assembly line production, the latter two are notable for their influential styling cues.

V&A Museum

The display includes Messerschmitt KR200 bubble car and a Paykan Hunter – Iran’s take on the Hillman Hunter.

Further exhibits include a Messerschmitt KR200 bubble car and an example of early Mustang, plus a customised 1962 Chevrolet Impala Convertible to celebrate the lowrider trend that emerged among Latino communities in LA in the 1950s and 1960s. You’ll also find the forerunner to the modern MPV in the shape of a Fiat 600 Multipla, plus an example of the Paykan Hunter, a Hillman Hunter that was built under license to become Iran’s national car.

The display ranges from an 1888 Benz Patent Motorwagen 3 through to this 2018 ‘Pop-Up Next’ autonomous flying car concept

Curator Brendan Cormier said: “The V&A’s mission is to champion the power of design to change the world, and no other design object has impacted the world more than the automobile. This exhibition is about the power of design to effect change, and the unintended consequences that have contributed to our current environmental situation.”

Though it’s not a comprehensive exhibition of 130 years of the car, it’s nonetheless a thought-provoking display with plenty of interesting artefacts and stories to keep audiences occupied. For more information and to book tickets for the V&A Museum, see www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/cars.