LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, (June 11, 2009) – 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. Visit www.petersen.org for more.