Zoltan Glass – Automotive Photographer

Born in Budapest on April 26, 1903 Zoltan Glass was to become one of the great photographers of the 20th Century – and automobiles, usually racing cars, were one of his favourite subjects.
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It wasn’t long before Zoltan grew tired of his work as a cartoonist at a local newspaper, and in 1925, he moved to Berlin.

Initially, all he could find was the odd freelance work, until he landed a job as the picture editor of a Berlin newspaper, the 5-8 Uhr Abendblatt before moving on to the more prestigious role as a photojournalist at one of Berlin’s main daily newspapers.

Glass was doing particularly well by now, and it wasn’t long before he established a photographic agency that specialised in advertising work, and Autophot, a company dedicated to automotive photography.


He was an amateur racer and keen motorsport enthusiast while living in Germany and covered the country’s biggest races at the Nurburgring and the Avus circuit, near Berlin.

The most famous of his photos were of the Mercedes-Benz team and their glorious Silver Arrows, which dominated Grand Prix racing from 1934.

Due to his now well-regarded talent, he was asked to shoot the brand’s new cars for publicity material, and even managed to make ordinary scenes like loading as car onto a ship, look inspiring.

Unfortunately for Zoltan, Hitler began to take hold of Germany in 1936 and work dried up for anyone with Jewish heritage.

With help from friends, he escaped to England where he became a citizen and set up a business shooting “erotic nude studies” which again was hugely successful for him.

Surprisingly, the only automotive shoot he accepted in England involved a female model posing with a 1961 Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing for a calendar.

In 1964, he sold his Chelsea studio and moved to a villa on the French Riviera until his death in 1981 at age 78, leaving no children, nor a will.

The National Media Museum in Bradford, UK, is in the process of digitising much of the Zoltan Glass archive and is expected to be completed in April 2010.