Art Center Classic 2017 — Celebrating Italian, American and French Design

The Art Center Classic has become one of the world’s most significant car shows.

I know this notion sounds a major leap of faith, but please trust me when I say this, as I’ve been to most of them: Pebble Beach Amelia Island, Villa d’Este, and you name it.

Art Center President Lorne Buchman, left, and My Pal and design great in his own right, Stewart Reed at right.

You’d expect a car show curated and staged by the school that has trained so many of the world’s most accomplished automotive designers to be great.  And it always has been, but within the last few years, it’s become A Thing.  Success has many fathers, and a number of people deserve credit for the Art Center Classic.  Among them my friend Stewart Reed, who chairs the Transportation Design program.  And certainly Art Center President Lorne Buchman.  And of course the school’s current faculty and staff, which are what the place is all about.  Not to mention all of the entrants and participants who bring the show to the grass.

And of course a list of hugely accomplished and deeply talented alumnus — names that include Okuyama, Brock, Fisker, Selipanov, Peters, Castriota, Foose and dozens more who make the great cars we love so much.

Red, White, and Blue

See, just like I said.

This year’s theme was “Red, White and Blue” not only honoring the colors of the American Flag, but equally the racing colors of Italy, America, and France.  Anybody here have a few favorites among Italian, American, and French cars?  Yeah, in fact many of mine and I’ll bet yours too.

So on to these great photos by my “go to” snapper when I’m not swinging my own camera, and again with thanks to Kirk Gerbracht.

And Remember: you can doubleclick on any photo to see it full size.

Enjoy the show, as did I…

Great stuff happening at Art Center…

This pair of Great Whites greeted you at the show entrance, posed across from each other in a sunken garden area on your way into the school. And you might scoff that the Lotus isn’t French, American or Italian, but don’t forget that it was designed by an Italian, Giorgetto Giugiaro, perhaps the greatest of them all!?


A whole lotta fabulous going on here

Talk about a Vroom with a View.

Nuthin much more ‘Murican than a ’32 Ford Roadster Hi-Boy hot rod with wire wheels and a Hemi motor.

Of course its an electrified Karmen Ghia, because why not? And it was a beautifully engineered job too.

Check out the flamboyantly elegant coachwork on this fabulous Lancia.

And I’d say flamboyantly elegant also describes this Ferrari 400 SuperAmerica Aerodynamico coupe. Yum.

This shot demonstrates the depth, variety and contrasts at this event: the Fiat Multipla is charming and ultra funky, but not fast. The Le Mans liveried Ford GT just behind and left is fabulous for a bunch of different reasons, among them being VERY fast.

Check out the soothing period colors on this lovely Moggie.

This wonderfully patinated old Chevy stepside got as much attention as any of the Ferraris did. And credit to Art Center for displaying it.

Lots of Italian variety.

Several times in its storied history, Cadillac has done joint ventures with Italian design and production houses — check out this Ghia bodied Fleetwood. Now that’s ItaloAmerican!

There were Studebaker Silver Hawks, Golden Haws, and Flight Hawks, like this fabulous ’56. You may or may not like the Mercedesesque grille on these models, but the body lines are tight, compact and very European for the day. I’d own this in a minute.

The roster of Ferraris on show was deep and dazzling. Check out this spectacular Touring bodied 1951 340 American Berlinetta Coupe.


Yes of course that’s me in the dark colored ballcap, standing between the two Daytonas, drooling like a fool. Mio Macchina Favorito!

What did Jay bring? His Yenko Corvair Stinger, of course…

and here’s Mr. Leno himself giving tours of his very special little Chevy.

Embarrassment of riches: My friend Jerry Rosenstock’s small-block Cobra is very American, but looks perfect in this Italianette color combo of Blue Sera over red inside. Someday, I’m going to steal this from his house…

Every car designer I know loves the deTomaso Mangusta, and several of them even own one.

Talk about a Great American Hero; wish the hood was down so you could really appreciate the design, style, and proportional perfection of this 1940 Lincoln Continental Zephyr Convertible, the development of which was driven by Henry Ford’s inspired only son, Edsel Ford.

Many consider the F40 to be Ferrari’s ultimate hypercar.

Not a line or a curve out of place on this Pininfarina designed 246 Dino coupe.

Two of America’s best ever car designs in just one little photo, the seminal ’56-57 Continental Mk II and the original Studebaker Avanti, some of which is seen at right, and both bright white today.

Time for some French you say? I say OK. This is without doubt the nicest Citroen Traction Avant I’ve ever seen. With just a hint of Stewart Reed’s Citroen SM at right.

And now for the whole thing, with some other great Frenchness behind.

I don’t know anything about this wonderful Indy style roadster, but I will make it a point to find out. Immaculate, and perfectly presented.

OK one more bit of French strange; check out the corrugated box on the back of the 2CV at right — is it any wonder these things were nicknamed “tin snails?” No it ain’t.

More ItaloAmerican greatness, with Rita Hayworth’s Ghia bodied Caddy at left, and a 1954 Chrysler GS-1 Special in blue on the right.

As usual, some of the most interesting cars were out in the parking lot. There was a student’s parking lot with some great cars on show.

Can’t imagine this Espada belonging to a “starving design student” but it was great to see no matter.

Check out the perfect license plate on this new Shelby.

Yes, a Nissan PAO. Where you gonna find another one.

I Dunno!