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In August 1947, LIFE magazine shared with its readers a whole new world of car design taking shape in postwar Europe. “It is exciting in Europe,” LIFE wrote of the creative ferment on display at car shows in places like Paris and Rome, “but only promising in the States.”
The magazine then went on to discuss the ways in which European designers were outpacing their American cousins—a state of affairs largely unfamiliar to carmakers and consumers, alike:
Here, in this gallery, we present a number of the “lavish, beautiful and original” creations that greeted the curious and the covetous eight decades ago.