Photos by Howard Koby
Art Center has been at the forefront of art and design education for more than 80 years. Transportation design as a major at Art Center College of Design was born in 1948 with a creative faculty comprising George Jergenson (who worked with General Motors in the ‘30s and designed the Opel Kapitan), John Coleman (industrial designer) and Strother MacMinn (considered the founding father of automotive design education).
Transportation design alumni hold top positions at the Pininfarina Studios as well as Ferrari-Maserati, Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, BMW, Porsche, Audi, Volvo, Nissan, Aston Martin, Mazda, Toyota/Lexus and Volkswagen North America.
In 2003, the first Art Center Car Classic was organized in the east-lawn sculpture garden on the school’s hillside campus in Pasadena, California. The show was praised for the way it “captured the excitement of car design with a behind-the-scenes look at how vehicles make their way from concept to the highways, racetracks, and show rooms across the globe.”
In the forthcoming years, themes have highlighted Supercars; Legends; Coachbuilding; Dream Machines; By Air, Land and Sea; Freedom in Motion; California Design-Influencing Change; Inspired Design, Inspired by Nature, and for the most recent edition, Street to Screen.
The objective was to explore the impact transportation and entertainment design has on Hollywood and the entertainment industry — on camera, on the road and behind the scenes.
More than 2,500 car enthusiasts and parents thinking of Art Center for their children flocked to the Car Classic to admire a varied display of iconic, classic and contemporary vehicles including three Batmobiles (1966 George Barris Batmobile from the TV series, 1995 Val Kilmer Batman Forever, and 1997 George Clooney Batman & Robin), as well as the Scooby Doo-inspired VW “Mystery Machine,” the 1956 Lincoln Continental Mark II coupe once owned by movie legend Elizabeth Taylor, the 1930 Packard 7-45 dual cowl sport phaeton from movie classic Singin’ in the Rain, the full sized Hot Wheels vehicles Darth Vader and Deora II, and many more.
Jay Leno was on hand interviewing celebrity car builder and hot rod expert Chip Foose while panel discussions in the college’s Ahmanson Auditorium were conducted by guest alums Syd Mead, a visual futurist (Blade Runner, Tron, Aliens), Daniel Simon, vehicle concept designer (Captain America), George Barris, King of Kustomizers, and Art Center alumni Alex Shen, chief designer at Toyota’s Calty Design.
Some of the award recipients included:
- Cars of Stars Award to Robert and Nancy Ratinoff for the ’56 Continental Mark II coupe formerly owned by Elizabeth Taylor;
- Competition to Bruce Canepa for his important ’69 Porsche 917 racecar;
- Movie Icons to George Barris with his ’66 Batmobile;
- Sports & GT to David Sydorick with his ’61 Aston Martin DB4 Zagato;
- Designer’s Choice Award goes to Aaron and Valerie Weiss for their superb ’58 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham V16;
- Student’s Choice to Peter and Merle Mullin for their stunning ’37 Talbot-Lago Type 150-C-S Teardrop.
Throughout the day, Dave Kunz (KABC TV), Ed Justice Jr. (noted car expert and historian), and Barry Meguiar (Car Crazy TV and radio) provided informative interviews with car designers and exhibitors, keeping the spectators enthralled all afternoon.