Art Center Car Classic 2018

The simple fact is that the Art Center Car Classic has become one of the world’s greatest car shows.

Something fabulous here for everyone, and lots of it

Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, has a world class transportation design program, and has trained many of the world’s best and most prominent vehicle designers.  The campus is an interesting and very architectural place, perfect for a design driven car show — which has now been happening for about a dozen years.  I don’t miss it, due in part because so many of my designer friends went to school there, and I have friends on the faculty, but moreover due to the depth, quality, and variety of vehicles presented at this annual event.

The Shelby/DeTomaso 70P Can-Am racer was designed by Art Center grad Peter Brock, and sadly obsoleted before it ever ran a race…none of which makes it any less historic or fabulous

The theme for this year’s Car Classic is “Iconic Design: 70 years of Art Center Influence” obviously marking and celebrating the schools 70th anniversary.  I don’t have an exact car count, but its something like 150 or so ranging from heavy classics to rat rods; custom one-off design studies to musclecars.   Exotics to you name its: something truly interesting and for everyone here.  This show isn’t gathered or assembled, its curated, much like any world class museum exhibit.

It was my particular privilege to host and moderate one of the design panels; From left that’s me, Ron Hill, Peter Brock, Chuck Pelly, Geza Loczi, and Shiro Nakamura — talk about legends, heroes, and friends

Particularly amazing about this year’s event was that something more than half of the field was designed by Art Center alums.  Many of which were on hand to enjoy the day.  Most of the school campus is open to attendees, and a considerable amount of student work projects are displayed for everyone to enjoy.  There were numerous designer panel discussions featuring Art Center grads talking about the school, their work, and the evolving landscape of transportation design.

Having nothing in particular to do with car design, but way cool, was this flyover trio of WWII era Chinese warbirds — just something else fabulous to see at the Art Center Car Classic 2018

Yeah, this guy shows up too. And Jay Leno always brings out a great car, and spends much of the day just hanging with the crowd, signing autographs and posing in countless selfies

While on the Art Center campus, make sure to tour the buildings and studios, with much student work on display

If there’s any way you can be in Southern California next fall, you must put the Art Center Car Classic on your To Do list in dark, black, waterproof ink, as I promise you will enjoy one of the great pearls of the classiccarsphere.


My thanks to Kirk Gerbracht for these great photos (above and lots more below — double click any shot to see it high res and full screen), and you can keep up with the happenings at Art Center via


This mouthwatering Jaguar XK-120 beloned to the late Strother MacMinn, who ostensibly founded the transpo design program at Art Center

The backstory of the Vector exotic is pure soap opera; designed and built right here in SoCal

Without doubt the most perfectly and authentically restored ’64 Rivi I’ve ever seen

Check out the uber clever license plate on this BMW Z8, a car designed by Art Center grad Henrik Fisker

The whimsical Meyers Manx SR was designed by Art Center senior faculty member Steward Reed

Truly something for everyone at Art Center Classic 2018

This ’64 Avanti had it all: rare alloy wheels, supercharger, accessories, and miles of designed in California style

If you can’t find 10, or 20, or 50 things here to love, then I can’t help you

Korean Inspired and North American designed is the dazzling Genesis Essentia concept

Jay Leno’s totally one-off Rolls-Royce Merlin V-12 powered roadster

Elegantly customized ’69 Firebird designed and built by then Art Center student Chip Foose

Lots of yummy Porsches on hand at Art Center 2018

Several notable car designers own DeTomaso Mangustas — is that in any way a surprise?

The show field is always dotted with Art Center students, sketchapad in hand, concentrating hard

Indeed — Again!

Talk about great American Heroes: second gen Corvair, a couple big banger Caddys, a Mk IV convertible parade float, and the seminal ’56 Continental Mk II

Trust me when I suggest that you Bucket List the Art Center Car Classic for next or a future year…