15 Million Reasons Why Peter Mullin & Art Center College Of Design Will Influence What You Drive For The Rest Of Your Life

Peter & Merle Mullins
Peter & Merle Mullin with Art Center students and faculty.

Peter Mullin is the guy we'd all like to grow up to be. Gasoline in his veins, money in the bank and a willingness to share that money to make the world a better, more beautiful place.

In case the name doesn't ring a bell, he co-founded the Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard, California. He's chairman of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. He is also president of the American Bugatti Club.   The son of a chemical engineer, a race fan since boyhood, and a vintage car racer today.

The deep involvement with the museums and Bugatti Club tells you Mullin appreciates classic beauty.  But he's also committed to making sure that beauty and inspirational design are with us long after he's gone.  So Mullin and his wife Merle are donating $15 million to the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.

Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA
Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, California.

In case that name doesn't ring a bell, it is and has been home to a world-class transportation design program for more than 80 years.  And its alumni list is like a who's who of automotive design.

Dick Teague, who gave us the Javelin and AMX and many other AMC cars?  Art Center.

Peter Brock, who helped style the '63 Corvette Sting Ray and penned the Shelby Daytona Coupe?  Art Center.

The late Larry Shinoda, who collaborated with Brock on the '63 Stingray and gave us the 1969 Mustang Boss 302 among others?  Art Center.

Wayne Cherry, involved in the '66 Olds Toronado and '67 Chevrolet Camaro?  Art Center.

And Jack Telnack (Ford), Chris Bangle (BMW), Shiro Nakamura (Nissan) and the list goes on.

The Mullins' generous gift, the largest in Art Center's 83-year history, will fund construction of a new industrial and transportation design facility, a place for generations of future designers to learn their craft and ultimately influence the future look, shape and function of the automobile.

Peter Mullin, who is also an Art Center trustee, says the gift is  "a chance to make a difference. I’ve been luckier than I ever expected in business and in my life. Los Angeles has been a great place for me. I was born here, stayed here, never left and I don’t have any intention of leaving. So our gift is also an expression of gratitude to a great city that provided me with great opportunity.”

“Peter has a real love affair with art and design, and he’s endlessly curious,” says Stewart Reed, chair of the College’s Transportation Design Department. “He absolutely views cars as functional objects that are really works of art, a beautiful marriage of aesthetics and function.”

“I’m grateful the Mullins care so deeply about our students who, thanks to this incredibly generous gift, will now have more of the resources they need to continue developing their talent and skills to make a difference in the world,” Reed continued.

TireKicker has shared with you before the great work and forward-thinking that comes from Art Center students.  Peter and Merle Mullin have just ensured that your kids and your grandkids will be wowed by designs that have their roots in Pasadena.

(About the photo at the top: In 2007, Peter and Merle Mullin sponsored a Transportation Design studio that challenged students to imagine a body for a Bugatti Type 64 Coupe chassis that was left uncompleted when Jean Bugatti died in 1939. Here they are joined by students and faculty who participated in the studio: (L–R) Richard Pietruska (instructor), George Yoo, Geoffrey Richmond, Garrison Gao, Theandrew Clayborn, James Brown, Hans Jahng, Alex Marzo, Mario Bekas, John Narciso and Marek Djordjevic (instructor).)

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