ArtCenter Car Classic: A garden of earthly delights

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Ed Justice, Aaron Weiss and Bill Burke belly tank
1938 Delage D8 120S Pourtout coupe among the hand-built cars featured at the ArtCenter Car Classic | Larry Crane photos
1938 Delage D8 120S Pourtout coupe among the hand-built cars featured at the ArtCenter Car Classic | Larry Crane photos

The ArtCenter Car Classic was launched a bit over a decade ago to collect and exhibit the most intriguing automobiles seen in Los Angeles car culture and to celebrate the ArtCenter College of Design’s leadership in that creative adventure.

As succinctly described in the event brochure: “More than just another high-profile car show, this popular public event celebrates the very best in automotive design, showcasing the College’s strong ties to industry and honoring many of our noteworthy alumni.”

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After 85 years of preparing many of the planet’s most creative minds to develop better products and to produce visual experiences to assure they are understood by end users, the 1930 vision of Edward A. “Tink” Adams is a resounding success. Gifted — and highly motivated — professionals in a broad range of creative disciplines mentor new generations to contribute and move into leadership roles for the accelerating demands of science wrapped in art — not unlike the hillside campus’s black bridge of architectural sculpture designed by Craig Ellwood Associates in 1976 and continually filled with the latest in design sciences.

As a recognition of the school’s “Designmatters” educational program, the United Nations Department of Public Information was inspired to award ArtCenter College of Design a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) status for its international outreach.

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To underscore that effort, the 2016 the ArtCenter Car Classic event was curated for an international focus on “Built By Hand” vehicles and included historic hot rods, fabulous coach-built classics and hand-crafted models and prototypes predicting the future of automotive form from legendary studios around the world, many led by the school’s celebrated design alumni.

ArtCenter’s renowned Automotive Design Department, now Transportation Design, was added to the curriculum in 1948 and graduates from as far back as the mid-‘50s were on the show field to enjoy the work of their colleagues — from several generations.

While the cars on the field are worth the price of the ticket, the opportunity to chat with the automotive world’s design leadership about a subject for which they share our enthusiasm would be hard to duplicate anywhere else.

Current student projects

Photos by Larry Crane

Larry Crane has been an automotive literature aficionado from childhood. Car books and magazines represented most of his reading experience. He moved to Southern California in his early twenties to be close to his favorite cars. After a WestPac stint in the Navy, he was offered a position redesigning Motor Trend magazine. Then, for Steve Earle, he created America's first vintage road racing magazine as both editor and designer. FromVintage Racer he joined Road & Track and then David E. Davis Jr., asked him to help create a new kind of car magazine, Automobile. After 12 years, Crane took his family back to Los Angeles to create his dream magazine, AUTO Aficionado, which attracted an impressive cadre of the most influential members of the collector car hobby until the national economy made that one impossible to continue.