See the ’50s wildest sports-car dreams at the Petersen

1955 Chrysler Ghia Streamline X "Gilda" Brandan Gillogly

Los Angeles’ Petersen Automotive Museum educates and entertains its visitors with car history from around the world, but the museum especially loves an opportunity to honor one of Southern California’s own. The Petersen’s latest exhibit, located on the third floor in the Audrey and Martin Gruss Foundation Gallery, is titled Fast/Forward: Strother MacMinn’s Sports Cars of the Future.

Strother MacMinn grew up in Pasadena, California, before working as a designer for General Motors and the now-defunct brand Hudson. MacMinn returned to Pasadena to teach at the renowned Art Center for Design where his students went on to shape the look of automobiles well into the 21st century. MacMinn’s flair for sleek, sporty designs led him to collect photos and renderings of concept cars for his 1959 book Sports Cars of the Future. Of course, MacMinn showcased more than his own designs; European design houses are some of the book’s biggest stars.

Included in the Petersen’s 2023 exhibit are some of the concept cars that MacMinn selected for his book. All are fantastic examples of 1950s optimism. Among the streamlined, space-age vehicles are the 1955 Chrysler Ghia Streamline X, also known as “Gilda,” which debuted at the 1955 Turin Auto Show.

ghia gilda concept turin auto show car
May 1, 1955: Ghia’s “Gilda” at the Turin Auto Show. Bettmann Archive

The car’s space-age design is more than skin deep. Beneath the aluminum body penned by Carrozzeria Ghia is a turbine engine. That jet-inspired tail panel is for real.

petersen l.a. museum car 1950s sports car concepts dream
Brandan Gillogly

Another star of the exhibit is Alfa Romeo’s Berlina Aerodinamica Tecnica 7, more frequently referred to as B.A.T. 7. The sculpted aerodynamic study has a drag coefficient of 0.19, which makes the current Prius look like a cinder block.

Rear visibility, on the other hand, leaves something to be desired.

In addition to several concept cars, the MacMinn exhibit includes dozens of gorgeous renderings from this book that also deserve close study. As always, we recommend spending a few hours at the Petersen if you ever find the chance. This exhibit won’t be there forever. If you’re in the Los Angeles area, we suggest buying tickets in advance.




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