This gallery traces the birth of the automobile from the customised horseless carriage through to its massproduction— a process viewed within the concept of motion in the late 19th century using new technologies of photography and film. The automobile evolved from box-like angularity to sleek aerodynamic shapes, influenced by the utilisation of the wind tunnel. This streamlined form was anticipated by the work of artists and architects in the first decades of the 20th century, and in the automobile, it became the very symbol of modernity.

In the beginning, the automobile rescued cities from the stench, disease and pollution caused by horse-drawn vehicles. In an era of climate change the automobile has now become the polluting urban villain. However, battery power was also a dominant force from the earliest days of motoring. Included in the show is an example of the Porsche Phaeton of 1900 with electric motors embedded in the wheel hubs—a concept considered revolutionary when it drove NASA’s first buggy on the Moon.

History has come full circle as we are on the edge of a new revolution with electric propulsion coupled with “mobility as a service” such as ride hailing and sharing, along with the prospect of self-driving vehicles.