ArtCenter Car Classic 2019

It was a perfectly clear bright and dry day, not too hot, and the ArtCenter property looked its very best

Now, truly, among the greatest car shows on earth.  The list of first rate, big game car designers who went to school and graduated from the Transportation Design Program at the Art Center College of Design (now more casually referred to as ArtCenter, with no space between the t and the C) is long and illustrious.  Peter Brock, Chuck Pelly, Chip Foose, Jason Castriota, Henrik Fisker, Franz von Holzhousen, and the list goes on and on for decades.  You can’t name an international carmaker of any consequence that doesn’t employ some or several ArtCenter grads on its design staff.  So naturally, you’d expect a car show put on by such an institution to be not only outstanding, but focused on transportation design.  As always you can doubleclick on any image to see it full size in high res.

And you’d be right.

The theme for this year’s ArtCenter Car Classic was “One of A Kind: Vehicles that stand alone.”  Meaning they could be factory concept cars, radical customs, or anything that qualified under the banner of “memorable one-off.”  And this year’s show had all of that and more.  Factory concepts and design studies, of course; crazy one of a kind customs, race cars, hot rods, and you name it.  Another fabulous “sub theme” of 2019’s classic was to compare “thens” and “nows” meaning side by side examples of early versions of cars, trucks or motorcycles, parked alongside a modern or currently offered example.  This allowed a thoughtful comparison of how design, and transportation laws and mandates, have evolved the breed.  I’ll show you some examples below.

Lancia Stratos HF Zero concept car of 1970 is a decided one-off with some particularly compelling design cues

So space aged was this Bertone Lancia concept car considered at the time that someone brought along these two charming bubblheads to hang out with it and make those selfies that much more memorable – these cute costumes (and the ladies wearing them) would do any James Bond film set proud

Among the many other things that set this show apart is that is isn’t just assembled; like a world class museum exhibit, it’s curated.  The classes, categories, and features are thoughtfully divined in advance, then the great cars and other properties are curated to fill and illustrate those concepts.   So this ain’t your average CarsNCoffee deal.  Another plus is that its held in the school’s quad which is some beautiful real estate, featuring the modernist buildings and a fabulous sculpture garden — great spaces for a car show.  And let’s not forget the school tours, seminars, talks and presentations given by some of the Autosphere’s more interesting and significant players.

Now THAT’S a car cover folks., with an Alfa Romeo at each end, and the Pontiac Vivant blue concept car in the foreground

Enough chit chat, please enjoy the photos below, and I hope they give you some idea as to the grand specialness that is the ArtCenter Car Classic….

This brilliantly colored and highly detailed Bugatti Chiron dazzled everyone

The seminal, absolutely one of a kind Chip Foose designed Boyd Coddington built Aluma Coupe hot rod

Totally badass Mercury custom featured major pure electric power under its giant hood — old and new meet at ArtCenter

Originally there was one, but now two, as this 1950 Mercedes-Benz race car transporter is a recreation of the once-thought-lost original; that one belongs to Mercedes-Benz, this one to, who else (?), but Jay Leno

One of the many great design comparisons on the field was this pair of Mercedes-Benz Gullwings, then and now

A perfect pair for the Design Comparison theme were these Fiat 500s of the 50s and of today…look how small the original is by compare

The Bosley Mk I is the first of a small line of them, looking like a Zagato Ferrari as much as anything. This one belongs to The Petersen Automotive Museum

Wonderfully weird is this 1959 Fiat MiaFiori bodied factory shuttle car/bus

There is of course only one “Old Red” that being the first and original Meyers Manx dune buggy even though this whimsical concept spawned thousands more

Not a one off, but still a racing livery — Gulf Blue and Orange — that will never look wrong or dated. Still crazy after all these years

Always plenty of foams, clays, bucks, and other design intent models to be seen at the ArtCenter Classic

Yes this left front fender goes with the Citroen Safari wagon just behind, sorry this guy stepped into shot just the instant I pressed the button. These fenders are easily removable by design

New C8 Corvette was a big draw this day

Bet you didn’t know there was one: of course Chevy will offer a convertible version of the new Corvette, and many people saw it here for the first time

One timeless Corvette design cue I wish they’d bring back, Peter Brock’s fabulous, original “split window” treatment for the 1963 Sting-Ray

Another great Design Comparison: Jeep Trucks, and motorcycles, Old and New

Something for everyone, including patina fans; this old Chevy wears its years nicely

Come to the ArtCenter Classic next year, I promise you’ll find plenty to enjoy