One thing Southern California doesn’t lack – aside from sunny days – is automotive related events. For the car enthusiast, this is as close as it comes to living in paradise. Ok maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, perhaps Monaco or maybe even Le Mans are closer to true car paradise. But in the US, Southern California most definitely embraces car culture like no other place. There are numerous events we look forward to attending each year, and few more than the Art Center Car Classic.
What makes this event unique is more than the 90+ handpicked cars from some of the best private collections and museums in the area. It is very much about the location as it is about the cars. The Car Classic is held at the main campus of Pasadena’s famous Art Center College of Design. Founded in 1930, Art Center is one of the premier institutions in this country (perhaps even the world) focused on art and design.
The school’s Transportation Design alumni list is quite simply phenomenal, including influential designers such as Chris Bangle (former BMW head of design), J Mays (New Beetle, Ford GT), Freeman Thomas (Audi TT), Henrik Fisker (BMW, Fisker Karma), Chip Foose (Hot Rods, custom builds, Overhaulin’ TV Show), and Frank Stephenson (Mini Cooper, BMW X5) among others. This year’s Car Classic was phenomenal, as we expected. Click past the break to see some of our highlights from the show.
This year’s theme for the Car Classic was “Inspired by Nature”, featuring cars whose design were inspired by things such as birds, insects, fish, etc. The name Stingray has been associated with Corvette since the late 50′s. The car shown above is where it all started – the 1959 Corvette Racing Stingray concept car designed by Pete Brock (GM’s youngest designer) and Bill Mitchell, who was GM’s VP of Styling at the time.
It’s original purpose was to “test handling ease and performance” – and was raced extensively at the time, as a privateer entry in events like the 1960 SCCA National Championships – where it finished 4th. After being retired from racing, it was used as an experimental show car, even though Bill Mitchell drove it regularly as his personal car on weekends. When the second generation Corvette launched in 1963 – its resemblance to the Stingray concept was clearly evident.
One of the key attractions of this show are some of the panel discussions that take place during the day. This year’s panel, hosted by Jay Leno, featured Peter Brock and Tom Peters. Brock, who is most known for his design work on the Shelby Daytona Coupes, was as we mentioned above, also part of Corvette history. Tom Peters is also a contributor to the model’s history, as the current Design Director of Performance Vehicles at GM, whose team is responsible for the new C7 Corvette which launched earlier this year.
As drive towards Pasadena, your mind begins to wonder what awaits you at the Art Center’s back lawn where the Car Classic takes place. At no point during that sequence of thoughts did we expect to see a fully restored 1947 GMC Car Hauler, with not one, but three Nash automobiles from the era on top. It’s things like this that keep us coming back each year, and we already cannot wait to see what’s next. Take a look at our gallery below to see some of the other highlights from the Art Center Car Classic. And if you live in the area, and haven’t attended this event – make sure not to miss it next year. You won’t regret it!