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Indianapolis Museum of Art exhibit showcases 'Dream Cars'

  • The 1941 Chrysler Thunderbolt roadster was the first to feature a retractable hardtop roof, while its hidden headlights and handle-less doors enhanced its streamlined design.

    The 1941 Chrysler Thunderbolt roadster was the first to feature a retractable hardtop roof, while its hidden headlights and handle-less doors enhanced its streamlined design.  (Courtesy of Roger Willbanks, Denver, Colorado. Photo by Michael Furman.)

  • The 1951 General Motors Le Sabre XP-8 was one of the first cars to feature a design inspired by jet aircraft and set the tone for many of the company's cars that followed.

    The 1951 General Motors Le Sabre XP-8 was one of the first cars to feature a design inspired by jet aircraft and set the tone for many of the company's cars that followed.  (Courtesy of General Motors Heritage Center, Warren, Michigan. Photo by Michael Furman.)

  • If the Le Sabre was about the jet age, the 1959 Cadillac Cyclone XP-74 pushed things into the space age with its rocket style bodywork, clear bubble canopy and radar-equipped nosecones.

    If the Le Sabre was about the jet age, the 1959 Cadillac Cyclone XP-74 pushed things into the space age with its rocket style bodywork, clear bubble canopy and radar-equipped nosecones.  (©2008 Peter Harholdt)

A newly-opened exhibit at the Indianapolis Museum of Art is putting the spotlight on revolutionary automobiles that are as much machines as they are sculpture and art.

The Indianapolis Star reports that the "Dream Cars" exhibit which opened Sunday and runs until Aug. 23 explores the intersection between art and engineering.

Museum curators selected for the show 17 cars that represent American exceptionalism and European sophistication, with plenty of visionary engineering mixed in.

The story begins with roadsters built by Ford and General Motors in the mid-1930s and ends with a 2010 Porsche concept car and a platinum, lizard-like 2001 experiment by BMW's Christopher Bangle.

That car features a Spandex "skin" that allows the car to wink and open its hood from the center like a gaping mouth.