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An artful look at car culture

Pasadena Art Center hosts a vehicular showcase with a California theme.

October 14, 2011|By Daniel Siegal,
  • Visitors explore last year's Car Classic at the Art Center College of Design. (Courtesy of the Art Center College of Design)
Visitors explore last year's Car Classic at the…

Southern California loves its cars. From the freeways to the beach, hotrods to woodies, Californians have a love affair with unique and eye-catching cars. At Art Center’s Car Classic ’11, the venerable Pasadena design institution will be showing how California’s car culture has impacted transportation design, while giving visitors an eyeful of the classic cars that built this tradition.

Stewart Reed, chairman of transportation design at Art Center, said the 10th Car Classic, to be held Oct. 23, will be more than just a chance to see some classic cars.

“It’s not really a Concours show in the sense of so many of the big Concours d’Elegant,” Reed said. “This is more of a design show, and that’s our goal, because there’s also an educational mission attached to it.”

This year’s show features four main California-centric themes: Vehicle Design Studios, Hot Rods, Beach Culture, Motor Spots, each of which will be the subject of a panel discussion. Guest speakers will include Cobra Daytona Coupe designer Pete Brock, Chip Foose of Foose Design, Dave Kunz of KABC-TV and Barry Megiar, who hosts “Car Crazy” on the SPEED Channel, with host Jay Leno.


Reed said the show’s more holistic approach to design stemmed out of its ad hoc beginnings.

“It was just a group of our own alumni, and a lot of whom who teach here part time, from the local [auto design] studios, they said, ‘We should all get together and bring interesting cars over; it’s a nice chance for the students to see things up close,’” Reed said.

Since the event expanded into a full-on show in 2003, it has called upon Art Center’s network of alumni employed in Southern California’s many advanced automotive design studios.

“There’s something like 20 automotive advanced design studios in proximity to Art Center,” Reed said. “A lot of the studios are bringing their team here, visual material to show development from their studio to show different conceptual designs that have made it to production … we’ll have, as of yesterday, it looks maybe 10 or so concept vehicles from local studios.”

In addition to showing off new concepts, the show focuses on how design evolves over time.

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