Academy News

The Past, Present & Future of Car Design

Academy student work and educational opportunities are showcased alongside classic cars at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance 

By Nina Tabios

A love of cars and automotive design bridges the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and the Academy of Art University. For over 20 years, the Academy has pulled out some of its most prized vintage vehicles to showcase at the Monterey County golf concourse to flex among other top-ranking car collectors across the globe.

Held on Aug. 26 and part of Monterey Car Week, the Academy brought out a 1931 Minerva 8al Convertible Sedan and 1948 Tucker – Model 48 for the 2018 Concours, according to Robert Fisher, chief executive officer for the Automobile Museum. He said the Minerva received the prestigious Most Significant Classic Car for the 2018 Concours.

“Our team participated in over a dozen events, where we were able to highlight and bring awareness to the incredible talent, professionalism, diversity of experiences and broad educational opportunity available at [the Academy],” Fisher said via email. “It was truly exciting to see such strong interest in what we are doing at the [School of Industrial Design] and the [Automobile] Museum.”

Since 1950, the Concours attracts past, present and future car enthusiasts to view some the most coveted and sometimes rarest automobiles across history. Throughout its years, the Concours has shifted its focus from showcasing newer European concepts to collector cars to racing greats, but in its present form, the event likes to show off a little bit of everything.

“For the global world of Fashion, New York City has its Fashion Week,” Fisher explained. “For the global world of car lovers, there is Monterey Car Week.”

The Academy Automobile Museum certainly mirrors this sentiment, with its vast and diverse collection ranging from coupes and buggies to convertibles and town cars. But the Academy’s School of Industrial Design (IND) also has its eye on the future through its students.

Mitchell Galik, a B.A. IND student, was among the handful of students present at the Academy’s Concours booth. Galik was one of the clay modelers in the spring semester’s Fiat Chrysler Automobile (FCA) sponsored class, where students developed futuristic concepts for Alfa Romeo and Maserati. Galik was one of two students, along with Yomar Gonzalez, also a B.A. IND student, named as recipients of the Phil Hill Scholarship award, a $50,000 gift that will cover tuition for their final Academy years.

“My thinking was that they were going to strictly select students in design; me being a clay sculptor, [being selected] was a surprise for me, it was kind of a shock,” he said. Galik, who is expected to graduate in the Fall 2019 semester, had just completed an internship at GM Motors. “This whole year has been kind of a shock to my system; so many good things [have] come my way it’s kind of overwhelming.”

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IND Director Antonio Borja and a group of IND students with American racing driver Derek Hill (pictured third from left).  Photo courtesy of Antonio Borja.

IND Director Antonio Borja said the Phil Hill scholarship is a merit-based scholarship, determined by academic achievement and individual accomplishments. To enter, IND students submit portfolio pieces along with a biography and video to explain why they deserve the award.

“Of the various submissions we received, [Gonzalez] and [Galik] proved themselves as our top two students,” Borja said. Past winners have gone on to work for companies such as Ford, GM Design, Volkswagen, Mercedes, FCA and much more.

Though not totally considered an industry event, the Concours is certainly a place where IND can establish relationships with car companies. According to Borja, representatives from the FCA and McLaren Automotive stopped by and overall, IND left the Concours with some new exciting projects in the tank: “Pebble Beach really is a great forum to meet with industry and forge new partnerships and we’re really excited to be moving forward with our future collaborations,” he said.

All in all, being among fellow automobile enthusiasts, appreciators and purveyors of quality design is just another day at the beach.

“It’s always great that students were able to talk about their work with the reps,” Borja said of the Concours. “But the displays were mostly for the general public to see the creativity and hard work of the students.”

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