Honoring Car Design and Car Designers: ArtCenter Celebrates 70 Years on Wheels

Jay Leno brings along his Merlin engine-equipped Rolls-Royce

Published : Tuesday, October 30, 2018 | 5:06 AM

On a crisp and clear fall weekend morning in Pasadena, a trio of vintage planes flew overhead Sunday, while “The Star Spangled Banner” played for the guests.

Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek presented a certificate from the city recognizing the College transportation program’s 70th anniversary. A moment later, the sound of a Rolls Royce engine sounded across the lawn as Jay Leno arrived in his open top Rolls-Royce. And the show was on.

The crowd of car and design geeks listened enraptured, as he showed off his specially designed Merlin Rolls-Royce auto engine.

This years’ ArtCenter College of Design’s annual Car Classic celebrated the 70th anniversary of the College’s Transportation Design Program. The show highlighted 90 cars, motorcycles, trucks and trailers from around the world, an astounding 75 of which came from ArtCenter graduates. The annual show at the Linda Vista Campus showcases the design and leadership of ArtCenter in the global automotive industry and is a wonderful opportunity to see the past, present and future of car design.

The field of cars on the lawn was rare and fascinating with examples from all eras of production and some in the midst of design.

Among the fascinating vehicles was the Honda Element, designed by J Mays; a rare RUF modified 1987 Porsche 911, owned by Bruce Meyer that was the first production car to pass 210 mph; an early Meyers Manx dune buggy with Bruce Myers explaining the design process; A French Voisin (No, not a fish) coupe, fresh from a restoration and award at the Pebble Beach Concourse.

The show also featured concept cars of the past from General Motors, Chrysler, Alfa-Romeo and Hyundai, along with Kenworth truck’s latest 18-wheeler design; Tesla’s latest design for the Roadster concept car; a 1961 Holiday House National Geographic travel trailer designed by Chuck Pelly, and a 1966 DeTomaso prototype designed by Peter Brock.

As the emcees for the show, Ed Justice, Jr and Dave Kunz, explained, the cars on the field were mostly designed and developed by the attendees at this very show. The campus design laboratory and display areas were open to attendees and groups of current ArtCenter students were congregating around cars to draw inspiration and guidance from prior designs.

ArtCenter College of Design opened in 1930 with a vision of teaching real-world skills to artists and designers and prepare them for leadership roles in advertising, publishing and industrial design. In 1948, the Automotive Design Department was founded. Now known as Transportation Design, alumni from the program work globally to create and improve designs of automobiles and other transportation modes.

In addition to the Car Classic held at the campus on Lida Street, the ArtCenter also hosted a grand opening for its new Peter and Merle Mullin Gallery at the South Campus located at 1111 S. Arroyo Parkway in Pasadena, this week.

The new gallery is 6,300 square feet and designed to function as a fine art and automotive gallery at the new campus at the corner of Arroyo Parkway and Glenarm Street. Designed by the architecture firm of Darin Johnstone, and funded by a generous gift from the Mullin Family, this new gallery is a welcoming point for students, faculty and the neighborhood to this new campus of the ArtCenter in Pasadena. The gallery is open Tuesdays-Sundays from noon-5 p.m. with special evening hours until 9 p.m. on Fridays.

blog comments powered by Disqus