Stephen Bayley – Death Drive
There are no Accidents
Cars have a talismanic quality. No other manufactured object has the same disturbing allure. More emotions are involved in cars than any other product: vanity, cupidity, greed, social competitiveness, cultural modelling. But when all this perverse promise ends in catastrophe, these same talismanic qualities acquire an extra dimension.
The car crash is a defining phenomenon of popular culture. Death Drive is both an appreciative essay about the historic place of the automobile in the modern imagination and an exploration of the circumstances surrounding multiple celebrity denouements, including Isadora Duncan, Jane Mansfield, James Dean, Jackson Pollack, Princess Grace, and Helmut Newton, among many others. En route the narrative traces one very big arc - the role of the car in extending or creating the personality of a celebrity - and concludes by confronting the imminent death of the car itself.
Stephen Bayley recounts delightfully grotesque tales about celebrities done in by trees, by lampposts, or by nonentities in ancient Chevys. A design masterpiece, this book combines exquisite prose with stylish presentation - the cars are described more lovingly than the people who perished in them.