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LA Art Centre Car Classic


The Good, the Bad and the Not-so-Ugly
14.8.05. The great thing about living in Los Angeles is that there’s some sort of car event on almost every day of the year. The bad thing about living in Los Angeles is that there’s some sort of car event on almost every day of the year. Consequently, you have to pick and choose carefully so as not to burn up your hard drive.

outrageous plane-engined roadster with shark-nose Ferrari inspiration and similar in concept to the Jay Leno tank car 

Though only in it’s fifth year, the Art Centre Car Classic held at the prestigious Art Centre College of Design Pasadena, California has fast grown to be a must-attend. Many of the world’s top automotive designers are alumni of Art Centre. Hot rod designers like Chip Foose, Thom Taylor and OEM designers like Chris Bangle of BMW and Larry Erickson of Ford, all sharpened their stylistic pencils at the modern campus built over a canyon high above Pasadena’s famous Rose Bowl. Tuition at the private school is now about $12,000 a term and it takes eight terms to complete the course—gulp! However, the car show benefits Art Centre's Transportation Design Student Scholarship Fund so there is some relief in sight.

Pete Brock's Daytona Coupe 

The theme for this year’s Car Classic was Legends: Timeless Automotive Design, and showcased the automotive designs of school alumni in celebration of the Art Centre’s 75th anniversary. There were some 100 eclectic models ranging from hot rods to road-racing Ferraris to concept cars and much in between - and Gordon Murray, late of McLaren, was the guest speaker.

Steve Prewitt's Bonneville racer

The Beradini Bros. Deuce Roadster

The one thing I loath about static car displays is that they’re, well, static and cars are all about action, so for me the best part of the day was watching them all drive up the hill and away. Nevertheless, a show gives you the chance to see favorites up close and personal. Cars like Pete Brock’s Cobra Daytona Coupe, Max Balchowski’s Old Yella (N. 70), the owners of which sat kids in the cockpit for a Kodak minute and gave ’em a lolly pop—the door was sticky, let me tell you.

Max Balchowski's Old Yella

Of the hot rods present, I liked the Berardini Bros. Deuce Roadster, Steve Prewitt’s Kirkland Teverbaugh Bonneville racer and Chuck de Heras’ SO-CAL-built black n’ flamed ’40 Ford Coupe complete with stack-injected 426—now that’s a hot rod.

The 40's Ford of Chuck de Heras - as seen on BBC Top Gear!

The best in class went to the Chip Foose-designed and built Ridler Award winner Impression of Ken Reister. Most outrageous pick went to some aeroplane-engined aluminium bodied open wheeled roadster. Not subtle, it was in your face and cool because of it.

Hot? It was too hot, but respite could be found in the school where you could check out all the student projects both automotive and otherwise. In all, a grand day out.

Ken Reister's trick Foose-built Ford

Story & photos: Tony Thacker

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