Front-seat drivers

Many Southern California auto design studios serve primarily as think tanks and don't focus on creating cars that ultimately will sit in people's driveways. But a number of notable production vehicles have been conceived in the L.A. region. Here are some key models, and the years they were introduced:

Toyota Celica

1976 Calty Design Research, Newport Beach

Mitsubishi Mirage 1989 Mitsubishi Research and Design, Cypress

Mazda Miata 1990 Mazda Design North America, Irvine

Lexus SC400 1991 Calty Design Research

Honda Civic Coupe 1993 Honda R&D Americas, Torrance

Acura TL 1997 Honda R&D Americas

Plymouth Prowler 1997 Chrysler's Pacifica AdvancedDesign Studio, Carlsbad

BMW 3-Series 1998 Designworks USA, Thousand Oaks

VW New Beetle 1998 Volkswagen Design CenterCalifornia, Simi Valley (studio movedto Santa Monica earlier this year)

Nissan Titan

2003 Nissan Design America, La Jolla

Ford Mustang 2005 Ford Design California, Valencia (studio moved to Irvine in 2005) Pontiac Solstice 2005 GM Advanced Design, North Hollywood

Toyota FJ Cruiser 2006 Calty Design Research

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