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What Were They Thinking? This past Petersen Automotive Museum exhibit describes how innovators throughout automotive history have sought to overcome automobile design and engineering challenges with the application of “out of the box” thinking. Though a large number of poorly conceived or badly timed innovations were necessarily abandoned at the design phase, a large number have been developed into full-size, operational vehicles.

On view were examples of such vehicles (both popular and obscure) from throughout automotive history whose designs embodied innovations, styling themes and other characteristics that were ultimately revealed to be of questionable value or limited appeal. Whether mass produced or prototype, they serve to illustrate that while certain cars are important because of what they are, an equally large number are important because of what they are not.