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Back to the Future (Past)

Although a certain designer held forth about Retrofuturism, which was arguably an excuse to bring out some updated versions of vehicles of yore, if you're interested in what designers including Harley Earl, Norman Bel Geddes, John Tjaarda, and others did back when sheet metal was far more extreme and exotic than it tends to be nowadays, check out “Driving Through Futures Past,” an exhibit that is being shown at the Peterson Automotive Museum (Los Angeles; www.petersen.org) between April 16 and September 11, 2005.

Although a certain designer held forth about Retrofuturism, which was arguably an excuse to bring out some updated versions of vehicles of yore, if you're interested in what designers including Harley Earl, Norman Bel Geddes, John Tjaarda, and others did back when sheet metal was far more extreme and exotic than it tends to be nowadays, check out “Driving Through Futures Past,” an exhibit that is being shown at the Peterson Automotive Museum (Los Angeles; www.petersen.org) between April 16 and September 11, 2005. There will be both illustrations and models of some of the incredible vehicles gone by. Among them are the 1936 Stout Scarab, designed by William Stout, resembling, yes, a beetle, and forerunning what are now considered minivans . . .the 1933 Chrysler Trifon prototype, which preceded the Airflow in terms of aero style. . .the 1956 Pontiac Bonneville Special Motorama show car (and now that the end of the Bonneville is nigh, this would be a good opportunity to take a look at one of the more dynamic versions). As museum curator Leslie Kendall observes, “The mid-20th century yielded some of the most forward-thinking automotive concepts created by talented designers who imagined a future in which technology would provide solutions to every design challenge.” We are, of course, still waiting for that future.