1950 Oldsmobile Polynesian, built by Valley Custom. Photo credit Gene Blackford
At a time when the world's automakers are frantically trying to survive an economic downturn while simultaneously inventing new technologies to make the world a cleaner, safer place to live, good design becomes extremely critical. Because automobiles are often as much of an emotional purchase as they are a practical one, the success of the product can be directly related to its curb appeal.
From the Packard Darrin to the Mazda Miata, cars designed in Southern California have ranked among the most highly regarded throughout automotive history. California Car Design: Local Style, Global Influence will tell the story of these and other locally designed automobiles and explains how progressive local designers like Harley Earl and Dutch Darrin brought a fresh approach to a conservative profession. Even after virtually all Los Angeles based vehicle manufacturers and coachbuilders closed shop following World War II, Southern California continued to shape automotive design on a large scale because of local customizers like Coachcraft and the Barris brothers whose work could be seen in dozens of enthusiast publications, on television, and in motion pictures.
Today the Southland remains at the forefront of innovation thanks to the area's large number of corporate design studios, influential educational institutions, and ongoing willingness of southland motorists to embrace new ideas.
Vehicles on display will include a 1919 Pierce Arrow with a Don Lee body designed by renowned GM designer Harley Earl, America's first post -WWII sports car: the 1947 Kurtis Omohundro, the 1950 Oldsmobile Polynesian built by Valley Custom, production vehicles designed in California, a never before seen full scale clay model from Chrysler, the 2009 Honda FC Sport concept car that debuted at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show, and many more.
California Car Design: Local Style, Global Influence runs through February 7, 2010.
The Petersen Automotive Museum Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charity. The Museum is located at 6060 Wilshire Boulevard (at Fairfax) in Los Angeles. Admission prices are $10 for adults, $5 for seniors and students with ID, and $3 for children ages 5 to 12. Museum members and children under five are admitted free. Covered parking is available for $2 per half hour with an $8 maximum for Museum visitors. Museum hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 10am to 6pm. For general Museum information, call 323/930-CARS or visit the Museum's Web site address at www.petersen.org.
1919 Pierce Arrow, Body by Don Lee designed by Harley Earl. Photo credit Carlton Photograp
1947 Kurtis Omohundro, America's first postwar sports car, designed by Frank Kurtis. Photo
2009 Honda FC Sport, designed by American Honda Motor Co., Inc. Photo credit American Hond