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The Art Center College of Design in Pasadena is one of the most well-respected automotive design schools in the world, and its alumni have been heading design houses all over the globe for decades. So when you go to their annual Car Classic concours, it's very likely you'll find yourself among some famous faces -- Former students like Freeman Thomas (Ford), Geza Loczi (Volvo), Dave Marek (Honda), Jae Min (Audi), David O'Connell (Mitsubishi), Frank Saucedo (GM), and Franz von Holzhausen (Mazda). And some famous non-students usually show up too, people like Jay Leno, Bruce Meyer, George Barris, Reeves Callaway, Barry Meguiar, and this year's featured speaker, Luigi Colani. Not a true concours, it's a chance to study and discuss great design. Sure there are trophies, but it really ends up being a master class in transportation design through the ages.
This year's theme was "Dream Machines: Imagination Gone Wild," and the very first car we spotted as we entered this scenic campus told us it was going to be a fun day. It was a 1969 Bizzarrini Manta Coup. We had never seen one before but it took our breath away. After a few seconds with the owner we discovered it was a show car designed by fledgling designer Giugiaro back in 1969. It's based on a retired Bizzarrini race car because they happened to have had it lying around. It's a three seater, ala the McLaren F1 and it's simply gorgeous. After that first taste, the show just got better from there. The Monkeemobile, the "Round-door" Rolls, a Duesie SJ, Porsche 959, Talbot Lago, Hot Wheels "Twin Mill," and many, many more delights.
Follow the jump for a partial list of entries and a few more highlights.
For more information about this event and the college, click here.
Luigi Colani - speaker
Best known probably for his organic shapes that steal from nature, Colani regaled the crowd with his plans to revive the Pierce-Arrow brand with a 24-cylinder halo car and more realistic driveable luxury cars down the road.
Harald Belker - speaker
Art Center grad worked for Porsche just out of school but found a calling in Hollywood. He designed 8 different Batmobiles, the "Minority Report" Lexus police cars and the car from "The Cat in the Hat."
1935 Desoto Airflow
One of the early attempts at managing, surprise, airflow, this stylish Chrysler-built, Desoto-badged Airflow brought the headlights from the fenders to the decorative hood-ornamented, waterfall-grille radiator. It also sports a split windshield, integrated fenders and fender skirts.
1938 Darracq/Talbot Lago T-150-C Cabriolet
Another example of fabulous Figoni & Falaschi coachbuilding. This stunning yellow and blue cab is powered by a Talbot 4-liter, hemi-head, straight-six fed by three one-barrel carbs. The Darracq in the name refers to Darracq Concessionaire Sig da Rocha who delivered the car to its original owner. The car stayed in that same family until 1975.
1939 Delahaye Type 165 Figoni & Falaschi
My favorite car of all time. I remember seeing one of these on a classic car calendar as a kid and thought to myself, "Why don't they build cars that look like THAT anymore?" This car was built for the 1939 New York World's Fair and was displayed in the French pavilion with no engine. Amazingly, the car sat in US Customs until 1946, when somebody bought it and stuck a Cadillac V8 under that glorious hood. The current owner decided a period Delahaye V12 was more fitting and when the car underwent its restoration, a suitable engine was found.
1956 Alfa Romeo 3000CM Superflow IV
This aerodynamic coupe started life as an Alfa race car. It was even driven to a second-place finish in the Mille Miglia, by none-less than the immortal Juan Manuel Fangio. It went to Pininfarina and hit the show car circuit. It started out as the Superflow I and evolved over time until it reached its current form, the way it appeared at the 1956 Paris Autosalon.
1955 Ghia Streamline X "Gilda"
Ghia built this car for Chrysler and it ushered in Virgil Exner's "Forward Look" design philosophy. This thing shook the ground as it rolled in, kicking a little dust onto the nearby BATs.
1953-1955 Alfa Romeo BAT Cars
The Blackhawk Collection owns all three of these amazing Alfas. BAT 5, BAT 7, and BAT 9 were a trio of concepts that were created through a collaboration between Alfa, Italdesign, and Bertone. BAT stands for "Berlinetta Aerodinamica Tecnica." Built on the 1900 chassis, one was shown each year at the Turin Auto Show from 1953-1955. The drag coefficient was the key to these designs and remains a remarkable testament to early aero study at just 0.19 cd.Although powered by a modest 90 hp motor, each coupe could do over 125 mph thanks to that airflow management.
And here's a list of favorites from the other classes:
1925 Rolls Royce Phantom I Aerodynamic Coupe
1969 Hot Wheels "Twin Mill"
1967 GTO Monkeemobile
1956 Jaguar Aerodyne
1963 Winfield Custom Roadster
2007 Dreamcraft Gatsby 7-cylinder radial engine motorcycle
2007 Mosler MT 900s
1937 Talbot Lago T150-C-SS Sport Coupe
1939 Coachcraft Mercury one-off Roadster
1936 Bugatti Type 57 Pilarless Coupe
1939 Lincoln Zephyr
1947 Delahaye 135 MS "Vedette" 2-Seat Cabriolet
1948 Bentley MK VI Conv. Coup
1956 Chrysler New Yorker St. Regis 2-Door Hard-Top
1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser Two-Door
1952 Maverick Sportster
1953 Siata 208 S
1953 Nash Healey Le Mans Coupe
1954 Ferrari 375 MM PF Spyder
1958 Devin SS Sports Car
1958 Ferrari 250 GT Cab Series I
1966 Ferrari 275 GTB, Long Nose
1967 Ferrari 330 GTC
1969 Fiat Dino Spider
1975 Lamborghini Urraco P-250
1988 Porsche 959
2008 Callaway C16 Roadster