By on March 19, 2010

Creativity means to explore new avenues of expression. In the thirties, forties and fifties, old cars were the clay that inspired new forms of creativity for the hot rodders and customizers. By its nature, creative expression was always changing, and 1953′s hot ticket was stale bread by 1958. The sixties were the blowout, led by crazies like Ed Roth. But by the seventies or so, the truly creative period was over, and it soon became a big-bucks business dominated by the Chip Fooses of the world. Glitzy eye candy, but don’t try this at home kiddies! No wonder there was a revival of rat rods, and the art car scene blossomed. Younger and/or artistic folks have always needed to test the sensibilities of the establishment, so if the goading words on this bumper have done their thing, and this turns you off, it’s been a roaring success.

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28 Comments on “Curbside Classic Outtake: Art Cars (Don’t) Suck...”


  • avatar
    CarPerson

    …and then turns around and proves the exception to the rule.

  • avatar
    porschespeed

    I don’t think that one will get a license to be on the playa…

  • avatar
    Jeffer

    I am amazed that something as potentially dangerous as this can be operated on a public road in the US. I don’t know of any law specifically prohibiting something like this in Canada, but I can guarantee the driver would be ordered to have a safety inspection on the vehicle. Same goes for “cars of wal-mart” type of stuff with things glued all over the outside of the car. The most radical things here in BC are fart-can mufflers and surf/skate/snow boarding stickers all over.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    I think I prefer this to the Ueli Anliker-SLR.

  • avatar
    CyCarConsulting

    I’m sure his parents are normal, look how nice the house is.

  • avatar

    Vomitific. My skin is crawling….

  • avatar
    dastanley

    Paul, how do the owners react (if they know) with getting their cars posted on TTAC? Any bad experiences or mostly indifferent to good?

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      Most never notice. A few have come out and my explanation puts them at ease, and makes them pleased. I’ve only had two people become unhappy: they were very old and not in the best of mental condition anymore.
      Eugene is generally a very laid-back and social sort of town, especially in the older neighborhoods.

  • avatar
    crash sled

    You guys are just jealous. ;-)

    Is that a frickin mailbox I spy on the passenger side?! Maybe this rig qualifies as a motorhome.

    The seats look fresh and new in that one picture, can you imagine putting new SEATS in this beast?!

    This guy is not only an artistic genius, but has somehow managed to beat the rust on this old Toyota, as the lower side panels look original, despite the stupid horizontal body joint Toyoda-sans’ grandpa put in there.

  • avatar
    SacredPimento

    Did you happen to see the driver?

  • avatar
    niky

    “Waste your life, be an artist.”

    Funny… that’s one of the only things I do that actually makes life enjoyable after sitting in front of a monitor for eight hours a day (or more) during the working week.

    I’ve got to get me one of those stickers.

  • avatar

    I’m now going to out myself as one of those damned artcar crazies. I’ve been at it for a long time now, and am on my third artcar. I’ve been to dozens of artcar events and know many, many artcar drivers/creators from all over the country.

    The real scoop: “Artcars Suck!” is a long-running inside joke among the artcar community, particularly here in the NW. We even had t-shirts made at one time, which many of us still proudly wear at events.

    Everyone who builds an artcar has a different story, and I won’t presume to speak for anyone else. But I can tell you why I got into it: I’m a lifelong gearhead, and have had grease under my fingernails since I was a teen. But I also have a creative side that I need to feed, as well. Artcars are the perfect melding of my urge to wrench with my urge to create visual art.

    While I truly admire most any form of the custom automobile and the craft that goes into making one, slavish devotion to form never really appealed to me. I suppose this is to say that I’m more Ed Roth than Chip Foose. Don’t get me wrong: I dig traditional form, but does the world really need yet another ’57 Chevy, ’32 Ford with a SBC or a Civic with cheesy graphics and a fart-can exhaust, just like all the other guys? Yawn.

    One of the funniest things I’ve ever seen was when several of us participated in a custom car show some years back. When a few of the organizers saw that our artcars were getting a lot more attention than the guys with the $50K trailer queens, they were pissed, made a stink and tried to get us thrown out. Pathetic. To be fair, many of the participants were exceptionally nice to us and inclusive, but the stifling, goose-step conformity shown by others only reconfirmed why I got into the whole artcar scene in the first place.

    To the folks wondering if we mind having pics taken of our rides: This is rarely if ever an issue. Why would we put our art out onto the street if we didn’t want to share it with y’all?

    So far as aesthetics go, art is in the eye of the beholder. Like any other scene, there’s a lot of crap out there, to be sure. And some real stunners, too.

    To close: It’s all about freedom, my friends. And I am thankful that I live in a country/state where I can still paint my car whatever damn color (or colors) I want to. Use it or lose it!

    Ask me nice and you might get me to spiel on a bit more and show you some cool artcar stuff. It ain’t all hippies and Burners (feh).

    • 0 avatar
      TexN

      Beater,
      I haven’t posted a comment to TTAC in about 6 months, but your post struck a nerve with me. My interest in cars is mostly from a “business” standpoint. I’m not a gearhead, motorhead, fanboy, etc. I like business and am familiar with many auto manufacturers. My only interest in the cars I personally drive are “Where does the gas go?” and “When do I need to swing into Jiffy Lube for a company-sponsored oil change?” Having said that, I do have a slightly off-kilter and irreverant view of the world. I love folks such as yourself that don’t necessarily march to the same beat as 98% of the world. Keep on keeping on, and let your art shine through! I’ll be admiring from afar.
      All my best,
      Tex

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      Beater, thanks for coming out to us. /p>

    • 0 avatar

      Paul: Hey, no worries, I didn’t think for a second that your original post was at all negative, and figured that you liked the truck or you wouldn’t have posted this article in the first place. Thanks for the edit and for the support! It’s nice to know there are other car folks out there who get it. What you said about the early hotrod scene was dead on, and I couldn’t have put it better myself.

      And the other comments are great to read, too… thanks! This thread and the comments in the previous LaHood “bike/car wars” piece are great examples of why I keep coming back to TTAC… it’s nice to be on a car enthusiast site where there’s some oxygen in the room and critical thinking going on, not to mention general civility.

      The occasional negative comment is actually quite revealing and part and parcel of the whole artcar experience… as I’ve often said, an artcar usually tells you more about the person looking at it than about the person who created it. You wouldn’t believe some of the things people have blurted out… “speak, so that I may see you”, indeed. That said, postive comments have always outnumbered the negative by 10 to 1.

      One more thing I’ll share before I sign off: The male/female ratio in the artcar world is usually dead even… name another car scene that you can say that about! Works for me.

      Thanks again… see you out there on the open road.

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

      Can you share your work with us here? Pretty Please? I like art cars.

  • avatar
    Juniper

    Yes, I agree some art cars are great. However, this one doesn’t suck it blows. I personally liked the local Buick 225 covered in 1 ft. carpet squares. Before a person begins an art car they should have some artistic skills.
    Any buick 225 in the CC archives?

  • avatar
    niky

    The whole purpose of art as a form of expression is to elicit emotion and to provoke thought. If the only purpose of art is to look pretty, then art itself would be pretty boring.

    If you think this car blows… then it’s actually eliciting the reaction the creator intended to elicit… thus… it’s successful art… no matter how hideous it is.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    I don’t really see the point of this art car but I have seen rather good creative ones. Ahhh, it’s all in the eye of the beholder.

    Beater: got pix?

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    This one I think is very ugly, not to mention unnecessarily and pointlessly unsafe, but I find the artcar thing as such intriguing. More, Paul, please!

  • avatar
    H Man

    Eugene is art car mecca. Mostly stinker, to my eye, but I’ve seen some real nice work now and again. All Paul has to do is spend an hour in Whiteacre
    (sp?) and he’ll have content for weeks.

  • avatar

    Everyday is a parade when you drive an artcar! http://www.flickr.com/photos/thatcar/3861867034/in/set-72157594181971828/

  • avatar

    As requested, some photos of my current artcar, the Utopian Turtletop:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/16479868@N08/sets/72157618150016876/

    There are lots of new details that I haven’t photographed yet, most of the pics are from over a year ago.

    A few details:

    It’s a homebrew convertible! And I made my own top which to my amazement doesn’t leak. It’s survived over three Portland winters and the interior is bone dry. The back window comes out and is stored in the trunk.

    This year has been all about mechanical improvements. First up was the dreaded heater blower motor replacement (a 240 is a blower motor with a car built around it… nasty job). Next is a new drivetrain from a wrecked 240, which will effectively take 200K miles off of the car! Engine, trans, driveline, complete rear end. The rear end is in, next is the engine/trans swap.

    I know each and every last nut and bolt of this car. You name it, I’ve replaced, rebuilt or reconditioned everything. Haven’t cracked the motor open, but I haven’t had to… Red Block FTW!

    I did lots of interior work last year, but I don’t have any decent pics at the moment. It’s sporting some cool fake snakeskin door panels and lots of copper metallic paint on the dash and other soft bits. Seat covers are coming up, too, which my friend will help me sew together.

    I’m going after the body after all of that. I have a set of 1963 Riviera headlights and 1959 Chevy taillights waiting to be grafted on. Maybe some tailfins, too.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      Beater, I haven’t gotten around to checking out your car until today; terrific. Love the top; always liked that type of sedan/cabrio set up, like the 2CV. And the art is mighty fine. Like! Have fun, and thanks again for sharing.


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