My Car Quest

May 27, 2024

ArtCenter College of Design – Car Classic 2018

Like Old Home Week for Grads

by Wallace Wyss –

The ArtCenter College of design, situated high on a hill overlooking Pasadena, is famous for one thing—training a good proportion of the world’s car designers.

They have changed themes of their annual show (this year it was held on October 28) several times but this year it was most appropriate that they celebrated the achievements of the car designers who graduated from there by inviting them to come with a car they designed. Of course some of the companies are long gone, like Studebaker, but private owners entered cars to honor those designers.

In some respects the “old car show” was a bit like a new car show because there were several prototypes. But that just shows that Art Center grads are currently on the leading edge of the world’s car designers. The only beef I have is the new wave of prototypes are electric cars, alas, what happened to heavy breathing rhumba-rhumba exhaust blaring performance?

Chrysler Concept

Chrysler Concept

Among the new cars shown was Henrik Fisker’s E-Motion which Art Center described as an “all electric sports car” but I’m not stretching “sports car” to cover four door sedans. Still it is a good comeback for Fisker who first introduced the Karma, then lost that company only to come back with a new Fisker company. The new Fisker is unusual in that it has gullwing type doors in the rear and flip forward and up doors in the front.

Only a few feet away was the latest Tesla. Alas, no sign of Elon Musk, the wunderkind CEO, was seen but the designer was Franz von Holzhausen, who had the pleasure of having two other cars on display that he designed, the Solstice coupe (very rare fastback with removable roof) and a Solstice roadster.

One of the superstars there, by dint of all he has accomplished, was Peter Brock, once the wunderkind of Shelby American where he had started out as a race driving instructor, segued into designing T-shirts but then dashed off a design for a coupe that became the Cobra Daytona coupe, a car that won Shelby some championships until the Ford GT40 pushed it out of the limelight. He even drove a modern version of the Daytona coupe to the event.

Peter Brock's Cobra Daytona

Peter Brock’s Cobra Daytona

But the car he was displaying is the “star” of his new book, which he was introducing, the DeTomaso P70 car, which originally Shelby had commissioned with DeTomaso but then there was a falling out amongst the two automakers and Shelby bowed out so that DeTomaso introduced it as a Ghia prototype (DeTomaso owned Ghia).

Another very early graduate of the Art Center Transportation design program is Chuck Pelly, whose 1961 Holiday House Geographic Travel Trailer was on display.

Jumping to futuristic designs, there was the Daniel Simon designed Robocar for the Roborace Series. A car with an interesting story was the 1995 Chrysler Atlantic show car, which looked like a modern revival of a prewar Bugatti Type 57 Atlantic.

Larry Crane, a docent at the Mullin Musuem, explained that when executive Bob Lutz at Chrysler drew this on a napkin as a show car Chrysler should build, designer Bob Hubbach was able to do the car, which became a 1995 Chrysler Atlantic concept car.

I don’t think the prewar Streamline Moderne influence on modern cars has ever been as strong in the modern day as in this car. Too bad it was only made to stand out at Pebble Beach.

Almost lost in the Atlantic’s glow was the Osamu Shikado designed 1998 Chrysler Chronos concept car which had a dashboard heavy on wood, the interior that should have been in the Atlantic if you ask me. The only thing missing was a unique license plate from

Another Art Center grad, Sasha Selipanov had a dream car on the field, one he designed with Chris Ha –the Genesis Essentia concept car.

Genesis Essentia

Genesis Essentia

Women designers weren’t left out, the Michelle Christensen-designed Acura NSX was being shown in its latest incarnation. Honda doesn’t sell many of these but is to be given credit for bringing a mid-engined sports car out ahead of the Corvette, which Chevy has been promising a mittlemotor for oh, 50 years.

Another superstar designer is Freeman Thomas, who is now with Ford Advbanced Design but who has been with VW (doing the present Beetle) and Porsche and Audi. So at Art enter he was represented by the car he designed with J Mays the Audi TT.

In a touching scene (I am easily moved) I saw Thomas congratulating Brock for being a role model for car design students at Art Center for more than 50 years. I congratulate Brock too for always being accessible and granting me interviews in the past regarding his Shelby days.

The show is carefully curated to present design students the great designs of the past, among them a Lincoln Continental Convertible that looked about 50 feet long, and a Cadillac Eldorado Brougham with a brushed stainless (or is it aluminum?) roof.





Many Art Center students today are Asian and never have seen these cars in person, so it’s a real education to walk around that show. This is the first year I’ve seen a whole group of students sketching the cars on display. By the way the beauty of this show is that you are free to walk around the campus interiors and see students at work making sketches, clay models etc. There is even a gallery showing illustration, fashion design, sculpture and the like.

Some of the cars shown, like an early Periscopio Countach, I couldn’t figure out how they fit in with the theme, but I was glad they were there.

There was one prewar French car, very elegant, though I had to read the PR story to realize it was there to represent a new Art Center feature, the Mullin Gallery in downtown Pasadena. The Gallery will feature automobiles from the Mullin Museum and display student work.

Jay Leno showed up with one of his 150-plus cars, an ancient Rolls Royce powered by a Merlin engine, similar to that used in both British and American fighter planes. It gets about 4 mpg.

The only inconvenient thing about this show is that spectators have to park down the hill at the Rose Bowl and be trammed up to the show. But otherwise, this was a great show in that you can talk to many of the designers or at least if the designer isn’t there, the car owner could usually fill you in on the designer’s history.

There was also some student artwork for sale. I like to see that the students can make a little money but most are too busy doing their homework to do art for sale.

Put it on your calendar next year—the Art Center Classic.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Photos by Richard Bartholomew.

Wallace Wyss

Wallace Wyss

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss, a fine artist, reports he is looking for a gallery; for his Streamline Moderne prewar car portraits of Bugattis, Delahayes, Delages et al…


More photos are in the slide show below.



      ArtCenter College of Design

ArtCenter’s Car Classic 2018 Judges Choices

Post War Classics 1950s

Judges: Geza Loczi, Sue Callaway, Henrik Fisker and Frank Saucedo

Eric Parlee’s 1953 Studebaker Commander Starliner designed by Ron Hill

Paul Merrigan’s 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham designed by Ron Hill

Dieter and Patricia Balogh’s 1958 Continental Mark III Convertible designed by Dave Cummins

Post War Classics 1960 through 1964

Judges: Jason Castriota, Marek Djordjevic, John Krsteski, Shiro Nakamura and Jose Wyzsogrod

Jim Powers and Stu Suede’s 1961 Ford Thunderbird Coupe designed by Jim Powers

George Preston’s 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe designed by Peter Brock and Larry Shinoda

Mike Lanska’s 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe designed by Peter Brock and Larry Shinoda

Post War Classics 1965 +

Judges: Joann Jung, Chris Chapman, Jason Hill, Ron Hill and Geoff Wardle

Mike Fiscus’ 1965 Chevrolet Corvair Corsa Coupe designed by Ron Hill and Larry Shinoda

Mark Moshayedi’s 1965 Shelby De Tomaso P70 Can Am Racer designed by Peter Brock

Rosa Farrer’s 1965 Shelby Mustang GT350

Porsche Style

Judges: Fireball Tim Lawrence, Bradley Arnold, Jordan Meadows, Bryan Nesbitt and Franz von Holzhausen

Tim Gregorio’s 1989 Porsche 911 DLS

Hans Lapine’s 1966 Porsche 911

Mark Leonard’s 1959 Porsche 356A Coupe


Judges: Sasha Selipanov, Alex Earle, Derek Jenkins, Dave Marek and Daniel Simon

Chuck Gayton’s 1976 Lamborghini Countach LP 400

Joe Tseng’s 1977 Maserati Khamsin CP

Pre-War and Motorcycles

Judges: Jonathan Ward, Dennis Campbell, Page Beermann, Jae Min and Rich Plavetich


Peter and Merle Mullin’s 1934 Voisin C27 Aerosport

Aaron and Valerie Weiss’ 1929 Auburn 8-120 Boattail Speedster


Earle Motors’ 1994 Ducati Monster Tracker

Daily Drivers

Judges: Samuel Chuffart, Kimberly Marte, T. Jon Mayer and Richard Pietruska

Mark Davis’ 1991 Mazda Miata designed by Tom Matano and Mark Jordan

Larry Guzin’s 2000 Audi TT Neiman Marcus Edition designed by Freeman Thomas and J Mays

Satch Carlson’s 2008 BMW Z8 Roadster designed by Henrik Fisker

International Influence

Judges: Chuck Pelly, Sangyup Lee, Kemal Curic, Nubia Krikorian and Mark Moushegian

Brice Reid’s 1972 Volvo 1800ES designed by Jan Wilsgaard

Stewart Reed’s 1990 Toyota Sera designed by Stewart Reed

Homer Reyes’ 1974 BMW 3.0CS

Designer’s Choice Awards

Judges: Stewart Reed and ArtCenter Transporation Design Faculty

Paul Colony’s 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing

Bruce Meyer’s 1989 RUF CTR

David Lee’s 2003 Ferrari Enzo designed by Ken Okuyama

David Sydorick’s 2012 Alfa Romeo Disco Volante by Touring

Kevin Yi-Chen Chang’s 2004 Porsche Carrera GT designed by Grant Larson and Jason Hill

ArtCenter College of Design - Car Classic 2018
Article Name
ArtCenter College of Design - Car Classic 2018
One of the superstars at this event, by dint of all he has accomplished, was Peter Brock, once the wunderkind of Shelby American where he had started out as a race driving instructor.


  1. How we can design the car manual?


  2. Wes Stewart says

    This article mentions: “Dieter and Patricia Balogh’s 1958 Continental Mark III Convertible designed by Dave Cummins”

    Unless there are two designers named Dave Cummins, this is wrong. I spoke to the one I know of yesterday and asked him about this. He said he only worked for Chrysler and never worked for Ford.

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