My Car Quest

November 11, 2019

The ArtCenter College of Design Classic – 2019

Text by Wallace Wyss –

Photos by Richard Bartholomew –

The Art Center College of Design is a landmark not only in Pasadena but in the design world. It’s best known for training most of the world car designers.

Each year they have a car show and this year, on October 20, it had the theme of cars that were created for someone’s dream, whether it became a production car or not.

Lancia Stratos Zero

Lancia Stratos Zero

So it was far from the concours style of Pebble Beach where there is judging. The great thing about the Art Center show is that many of the people showing a car are retired designers. They might have even designed the car they are showing.

One of the best success stories is Chip Foose, son of a customizer, who brought two hot rods, one of which inspired a Chrysler Prowler. He is an Art Center grad who, though he has worked for automakers, prefers to build rods for private customers.

Chip Foose and his custom car

Chip Foose and His Custom Car

There are some classic cars, you can’t get more classic than the one-off Bugatti 57SC with Van Vooren coachwork designed as a wedding present for the Shah of Iran.

Among the interesting cars:

-A ’68 Dodge Charger that had the steel body replaced by a carbon fiber one…Weight savings 800 lbs!

–a one off special two seater designed by GM engineer Herb Adams back in the 60’s.(and the first car I wrote a story on…)

–a mid-engined two seater electric car looked as wild as a Bugatti. But since it’s electric, might not be hard to get it into production–no engine block to tool up for…

There was a two seater V12 Fisker, one of an edition of just two, a car killed off by an economic downturn of ten years ago.

Slightly less rare was a Qvale Mangusta, a front engine car originally designed by DeTomaso but re-named for its importer, Qvale, when he and DeTomaso had a falling out.

There were two 2020 Corvettes, and the chief designer spoke about designing the car. He promised there will be many more special models to come.

ArtCenter College of Design Classic

File under razz-ma-taz the two gals in skimpy costumes and astronaut’s bubble helmets appearing with an old Bertone show car, the Lancia Stratos Zero.

The show also had hot rods like an old (was it Nash?) Metro with a humongous V8 engine. One wonders if all that power can be controlled in such a small car? Then there was a tatty Mercury that had a full house hi-po engine under the hood, those built by a firm called Icon that specializes in “sleepers,” cars that look like old beaters but have modern drivetrains, brakes and suspensions.

French cars were also represented by a Citroen where the owner detached the fender to show the maddening intricacies of the hydraulic suspension system. Not too many people do that at a car show!

And also waving the tri-color was a Matra Djet, a slim little mid-engine car that has to be one of the first mid-engined cars on the market (Detomaso’s Vallelunga claims this title).

ArtCenter College of Design Classic Custom

Over 60 years ago I went to an engineer’s house in Michigan to shoot his custom car, powered by an American V8. His name was Herb Aams, later famous for developing the Pontiac GTO.

I got to talk to several young designers and even cajoled two of them into critiquing the new Corvettes–a coupe and a convertible–on display.

When you go to that show you and walk through the halls and see student work. I ducked into one Trans Design to shoot a clay model I was heartened that the Corvette designer said he still loves clay because others in the industry want to skip that step in car design.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Jay Leno and Wallace Wyss

 
 
 
THE AUTHOR: White suit and all, with TV show host Jay Leno, who arrived in a Mercedes replica race car hauler.

 
 
 

THE PHOTOGRAPHER: Richard Bartholomew is an artist and photographer based in Southern California. Visit his YouTube channel here. He is open to interesting consignments and can be reached at zeroagenow@aol.com

 

 

Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo

More photos are in the slide show below.

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The ArtCenter College of Design Classic - 2019
Article Name
The ArtCenter College of Design Classic - 2019
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One of the best success stories is Chip Foose, son of a customizer, who brought two hot rods, one of which inspired a Chrysler Prowler. He is an Art Center grad who, though he has worked for automakers, prefers to build rods for private customers.
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