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This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Fri, Jul 22, 2005

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

© photo by Harvey Schwartz


By Contributing Editors John Grafman, Roy Nakano, Harvey Schwartz

This year, Disneyland is celebrating the big Five-0. Little do most know that this year Art Center College of Design in Pasadena is turning seventy-five. While Disney had churned out such lovable characters as Mickey Mouse, Donald and the Dwarfs, Art Center is creating such charismatic luminaries as Chip Foose, Chris Bangle, and nearly all of the automotive designers in Southern California. While it might not have the tag line as the happiest place on earth, Art Center has perpetuated America's love affair with the auto for generations.

Certainly, there are few events where appreciation and fondness for the auto is so evident as at the Pebble Beach Concours. Yet, I don't think I'm going to Pebble Beach this year. Sure, sure, they do have everything up in Monterey. Pebble unfortunately does require at the very least several days set aside and a chunk of change that might serve well as a down payment on a nice luxury car.

On a considerably smaller scale, Pasadena's annual event is now coming into vogue in the automotive world in much the same fashion as the Sundance film festival has to the movie industry. This is the love child of transportation design students. The Car Classic this year features many of the cars that the graduates have given birth to. It is staggering to think that if this school didn't exist we might not have some of the iconic autos we have come to know and love over the years.

This isn't just some random occurrence that is making Pasadena the focus of attention in the heat of mid-summer. Years of devotion by the school, the industry and the graduates themselves maintain Art Center's reputation as one of the most respected art schools in the country.

Why is this school so different than others? What makes this place so damn special? Few schools have their graduates give back to the school as graciously in order to cultivate the next generation of designers and artists. Art Center alumni do, just the way they have for decades.

Like any annual event, the bugs get worked out over time, and this has. The fifth annual Car Classic is dialed in nearly as well as any big name concours. The participating vehicles, layout, food, and most importantly the people all make this a great affair.

From the moment Jay Leno arrives in a McLaren F1 to the time Chris Bangle departs in a limo, I realize how privileged I am to attend a gathering of so many who are so essential to the automotive culture. To see some of the industry's biggest names sharing some moments, interacting and having discussions not just with their contemporaries but also with the public that shares the same passion, makes this get-together a standout among automotive events. It's obvious: This is definitely not a Mickey Mouse affair.

- John Grafman

It was a warm and sunny afternoon at Pasadena's famous Art Center College of Design as the school played host to its 5 th Annual Car Classic held on the back lawn of the school. This year the theme was Legends: Timeless Automotive Design.

© photo by Harvey Schwartz

Many people have many definitions as to what Timeless Automotive Design means to them. To me timeless automotive design is a design that always looks fresh and exciting, regardless of the age of the car.

© photo by Harvey Schwartz

This year over 100 vehicles were on display highlighting timeless automotive design-classic American cars, classic European cars, noted hotrods and amazing one-off's.

© photo by Harvey Schwartz

My favorite cars on display were the McLaren F1 that Jay Leno drove to the event, the 1959 Ferrari 250 RT Fantuzzi spyder, 1963 Corvette Sting Ray, 1937 Bugatti 57S Atalante coupe, the 1938 yellow Peugeot Darl'mat roadster, 1992 Vector W8, the black 1931 Bugatti Type 51 coupe and of course the gorgeous red 1988 Ferrari Testarossa with Bizzarini designed body.

Famous Art Center transportation graduates now working for major automotive companies discussed their work, their inspirations, and what they think defines 'timeless' design, included Chris Bangle from BMW, Shiro Nakamura from Nissan, Frank Stephenson from Fiat, Chip Foose from Foose design, and Gordon Murray, the designer of the most recent automobile with timeless automotive design-the McLaren F1.

- Harvey Schwartz

The backdrop for the Car Classic is, appropriately, the Art Center College of Design. Located in the beautiful hills of Pasadena, Art Center enjoys a reputation as one of the best automotive design schools in the world. By some estimates, more than half of the world's car designers are Art Center graduates. Some of the names will be familiar: Chris Bangle, Peter Brock, Wayne Cherry, Craig Durfey, Grant Larson, Strother MacMinn, J Mays, Chuck Pelly, Shiro Nakamura, Ken Okuyama, Larry Shinoda, Frank Stephenson, Jack Telnack and Freeman Thomas. This year, Art Center marks its 75th year as an institution. Art Center has distinguished itself beyond the world of automotive art. It also offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in a wide variety of art and design disciplines. Integral to Art Center's core curricula is a commitment to providing its students with the skills to embrace change and address real-world issues.

- Roy Nakano

© all photos by John Grafman except where noted For more information on the Art Center College of Design, go to

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