L.A. Is Still Car Crazy, and We Shouldn't Apologize For That | Page 2 | The Informer | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly
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L.A. Is Still Car Crazy, and We Shouldn't Apologize For That

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Mon, Jun 2, 2014 at 7:03 AM

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click to enlarge SHANNON COTTRELL FOR L.A. WEEKLY
  • Shannon Cottrell for L.A. Weekly
L.A. is not a manufacturing center like Detroit, Tokyo or Stuttgart, but the heart of car culture still beats here. The Los Angeles International Auto Show is one of four or five crucial showcases (alongside the shows in Detroit, Tokyo, Frankfurt and Geneva) for the global car industry.

Some of the top car collections in the world, including those of Jay Leno and the late Otis Chandler, have been based in Southern California. The renowned Mullin Automotive Museum is in Oxnard, and L.A.'s own Peterson Automotive Museum, fruit from the L.A.-bred Hot Rod publishing empire, is a must-see for any car fan.

Mercedes, BMW, Toyota, Honda, VW, Mitsubishi, Mazda and other manufacturers have design studios in Southern California, because this is where car style begins. The Art Center College of Design and other local schools have been the training grounds for countless top auto designers.

Hyundai Motor America is based in Orange County, and Toyota just recently announced that the bulk of its U.S. operations were moving to Texas from Torrance. Many of Germany's top "tuners" for Porsche, Mercedes and BMW located their North American operations in Southern California.

And superstar customizers like Magnus Walker and ex-Catherine Wheel leader Rob Dickenson (of Singer Vehicle Design) continue to gravitate toward Los Angeles.

click to enlarge MAGNUS WALKER BY RYAN ORANGE FOR L.A. WEEKLY
  • Magnus Walker by Ryan Orange for L.A. Weekly
Even our world-influencing culinary scene is based, in part, on the portable gastronomy of the taco truck. We rely on cars to get our medical marijuana delivered and for coming-of-age make-out sessions. Try to do that last one in a bike lane.

SoCal is also the place to be if you want to see Ferraris crash or if you need to purchase pretty much any high-end vehicle that's legal to drive on U.S. roads.

It was the home of James Dean and Steve McQueen and one of the places where American Graffiti was filmed.

Hollywood has done a lot to broadcast our love affair around the world. You can't just erase this heritage with four new miles of subway. 

Sure, traffic is a downer, even for the four-wheeled faithful. But most of us happily see the flip side in a weekend trip up the PCH or a spirited sprint on Mulholland Drive. There's yet to be a train or bike that will take us comfortably to Las Vegas, Coachella or Baja (the latter of which inspired a whole breed of SoCal offroad vehicles, including the "Baja Bug").

The Times got it wrong. Cars aren't leaving L.A., except when they're taking families on cherished road trips. And we should be proud of that.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow LA Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.

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