Wallace Wyss blogs about the annual design college car show, this year showcasing the entertainment business.
The Art Center College of Design in Pasadena is the place where a great percentage of the world's car designers are trained. Its hilltop location is a fitting place to have a car show, but I think it is a stretch to call it a "concours" because there are so many owner-modified cars on display. For example, nobody cares if it is a 100% stock Iso Grifo because many of these young designers have never seen or heard of an Iso Grifo. Especially those who are from Asia, possibly one-third of the student body.
Organizers change the mix at the show to suit the theme and this year the theme was show biz. The focus was on cars used in movies or those inspiring cartoon movies, including at least four Batman cars, the Bumblebee Camaro from Transformers: Age of Extinction, top, and full-size Hot Wheels Darth Vader and Deora II vehicles. Restored vintage GM show-tour display truck, right, was a big hit.
But we would be remiss not to mention George Barris, now in his 80s and the originator of the first TV Batcar. He talked about how he built the car on short deadlines and a small budget. Alex Shen, chief designer at Toyota's California studio and Takuya Asano, Gran Turismo game designer explained how a car done for a game became a real prototype, the FT-1.
In sum, the Art Center College of Design show isn't a concours like Pebble Beach; it's more of an eclectic show of whatever the organizers feel is important for students to see. And since these are the car designers of the future, we want them to see as much as possible of what's been done in the past.
Wallace Wyss is the author of the Incredible Barn Find series from Enthusiast Books.
Photos by Richard Bartholomew