The Art at the Auto Show

Honda Civic Instrument Panel

The November 2011 L.A. Auto Show, Los Angeles Convention Center, California USA.

(click twice on any image to see it full size)

Honda Civic Instrument Panel

For years, the-vu has been lucky enough to have a couple of writers attend the LA Auto show on Press Days, and we have written selective reviews of cars, usually electric and alternative fuel cars. We used to have to search the back corners of Kentia Hall, where the accessories were shown, to find our hydrogen, electric and hybrid subjects, but the world has caught up with us and in 2011 all the news is about green technology.

So we are taking a left turn from the green news and focusing instead on the art of the automobile. Art often takes a back seat in new car models. Just look at a typical Buick, Toyota or Dodge and you will have to really search it inside and out to find much art in the car.

But art sometimes does make it into production, if you know where to look. It may be front and central, like the dashboard of a Mini-Cooper, or it may be hidden in the subtle belt-line curves of a new Hyundai.

This year our low flying cameraman follows our jazz, opera and ballroom-dancing inspired crew into the gallery that is the 2011 LA Auto Show. We only invested a couple of miles of walkaround into this project, but if you happen to attend and notice anything we missed, please post comments at the end of this article.

Not a Caddy, a Civic roof antenna.

Aside from the cars, some elements of the exhibition itself caught our attention. From perforated nylon partitions to shiny white floors, the cars benefitted from the latest in display innovation.


While the design criteria for a Rolls Royce, a Nissan and a Morgan have to be very different, as usual, judging all marques together  Volkswagen and Audi rise to the top of the pile for overall good aesthetics mixed with functionality.

VW Golf GTI nose

And as usual the BMW Mini has an interior that really stands out from all others, from the large clocks to the door trim to the stitching on the leather steering wheel.


But sometimes it can be a tiny detail such as a headlight, that uses art and design to elevate the car as a whole.


Even the mundane daily driver can be enhanced by trim and color to stand out from the crowd, as in the case of this lowly Hyundai.

Today’s Rolls Royces may have taken design far beyond either function or good taste, and I will spare your poor eyeballs by not showing the whole car here, but a nod to the classic wooden speedboat is always appreciated.

When presenting a small production electric car to go up against the major manufacturers, it helps to pull out all the stops, and Doking has a center driver seat, gull wing doors and cartoonish tail lights to grab the attention of the crowd.

Mitsubishi’s electric cars have become a reality, but the next generation take a leaf from the Beetle Book and also add some faux-wood-inlay micro-circuitry. (click once or twice on the small photo to zoom into image to see it in detail).

Have you been to the show and found any details that caught your artistic eye? If so please comment with your photo links.

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