Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

Arthur Radebaugh (1906-1974) was a top-notch commercial illustrator who worked for companies as diverse as Chrysler and Coca-Cola.

He was based in Detroit from the 1930s to 1960s, and much of his work anticipated design revolutions in the automotive and other industries. He once described his work as "halfway between science fiction and designs for modern living."

Radebaugh settled long-term roots in Detroit. He drew ads for major companies from Coca-Cola to United Airlines. As often as not, however, he left art directors and other potential clients utterly befuddled by his futuristic stylings.

Before the WW2 he created covers for the Motor magazine:

His colleagues describe him as a bit of a loner, but also a kind and debonair man who knew how to be flashy and exotic. He once returned from a business trip in New York wearing a monocle, which he sported along with other outlandish garb: capes, jodhpurs and various strange hats.


Radebaugh's virtuosic airbrush technique created luminous illustrations which conveyed the sleek, streamlined look of the future. From flying cars to glamorous skyscrapers, his renderings were both pragmatic and fantastical, showing possibilities unimagined, derived from the technology of the day*.

Radebaugh's post-war series of Bohn Aluminium ads is probably the most famous part of his legacy:

Tomorrow's Trailer

Who would say that the 1950 GM mobile home wasn't inspired by this truck?

1943 ... red truck - by Radebaugh

This one remained a fantasy, and the next one too:

But look at this:
Arthur Radebaugh. Future Commuter. 1946

It looks suspiciously alike the 1955 General Motors Aerotrain. And the year is 1946 or 1947. Probably Radebaugh really could see the future? Or Harley Earl, the GM chief designer, took these ads too seriously?

Well, enjoy the slideshow.

Find more photos like this on Dieselpunks
Or browse the album. Notice that some of the ads are only attributedto Radebaugh, but the overall manner is the same. And, I almost forgot to offer you some soda:

Coke. By Radebaugh

* Text and artist's photo source: The Cartype Website. Other illustrations on this page: Plan59paul.malon and x-ray delta one @ Flickr

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Comment by Larry on November 24, 2009 at 11:52pm
I've seen his art before and always loved it. But I never knew who the artist was. Thank for sharing this.
Comment by lord_k on November 24, 2009 at 1:00pm
My pleasure.
Comment by Tome Wilson on November 24, 2009 at 12:44pm
Thank you for sharing this collection. The Streamline Moderne article at wiki is lacking.

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