Tag: art cars

By on May 15, 2019

Before Smart goes all-electric next year, Daimler plans to offer “an exclusive and strictly limited special edition” model as a farewell to its combustion-engine vehicles. Designed by Konstantin Grcic, a man known for designing mass-manufactured minimalist furniture, the automaker says these limited-edition cars are for the “most ardent collectors only.”

Presumably, Daimler is referring to collectors in the general sense, as we’ve never heard of anyone with a devoted throng of Smart cars.

While it may sound like a bit of a turd, the company also said Brabus’ involvement was essential in developing the 21 models slated to roll off the assembly line in August of this year. That means more grunt and improved noises coming out of the back end — something we can all appreciate, be it in the bedroom or out on the open road.  (Read More…)

By on February 19, 2019

With the 50th anniversary of Woodstock nearly upon us, it was only a matter of time before Volkswagen released a commemorative vehicle acknowledging the Microbus. The Type 2, a staple of the hippie movement, was frequently found painted in psychedelic patterns and hues. Case in point is the “Light Bus,” which appeared in numerous photos of the 1969 Woodstock Art and Music Fair — including the official Woodstock album — and became emblematic of the moment.

Driven by (and named after) the Baltimore-based band that drove it, the vehicle eventually vanished into obscurity.

Three years ago, artist Dr. Bob Hieronimus and Canadian documentarian John Wesley Chisholm sought to acquire the van, hoping to restore it to its former glory. Unfortunately, a six-month search turned up no trace of the van, so the two made do with an unmolested 1963 VW Standard Microbus sourced via a crowd-funding campaign. It may not be the Type 2 that attended the historic music festival, but the attention to detail here barely makes that an issue.  (Read More…)

By on February 13, 2019

Lexus unveiled a collaboration with Nike and designer John Elliot at New York Fashion Week, celebrating both human and automotive footwear. The finished piece, titled “Sole of the UX,” is scheduled to make additional appearances across the country later this year, touring with a matching pair of Nike AF1 shoes.

After conducting a bit of research, Elliott appears to be a fashion designer specializing in the least imaginative streetwear ever to enter mass production. His beige drawstring pants, which run about $200 USD, are probably the most creative item in his entire catalog. The brunt of his collection involves plain shirts and lots of faded denim.

While not hideous by any means, it’s devoid of any unique style. The articles of clothing Elliot specializes in are the kind of pieces you’d wear while running errands or relaxing at home. They just cost a lot more. However, as Elliot openly describes his take on fashion as intentionally “basic,” there’s little reason to get ultra salty over how so much of his fashion line resembles a high-quality burlap sack. Instead, let’s focus our collective ire on Lexus. (Read More…)

By on July 29, 2018

Art cars kind of suck. Even though BMW has managed to produce a handful of stellar examples — models enhanced by Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Frank Stella, Alexander Calder, and Andy Warhol — plenty of the brand’s artistic liveries have been far less appealing to the layperson.

Other companies have produced art cars as well. Last year, Lexus unveiled an incredible IS sedan covered in 41,999 programmable LEDs that created a perpetually changing and utterly hypnotic visual experience. However, its most recent example left me feeling a little empty inside.

Art is subjective, I know. But, when it’s slathered all over an automobile, you want it to be expressive of the car’s personality — or at least striking in a way that becomes transformative. The LFA Lexus brought to the Total 24 Hours of Spa race this weekend does neither. Frankly, it feels one step removed from purchasing some mass produced vinyl graphics off an online retailer and sticking them wherever.  (Read More…)

By on June 10, 2013

08 - 1987 Volvo 740 Art Car Down On the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinSince I’ve built (and daily-driven) what I consider to be an art car, I’m not against the concept of an art car. The problem is that you get 100 random-beater-with-army-men-hot-glued-all-over art cars for every brilliant Sashimi Tabernacle Choir. Because affixing random crap all over a cheap car is an accepted route to a certain segment of San Francisco Bay Area artistic circles, I’ve found a fair number of these things in Northern California wrecking yards. Here’s the first turbocharged art car I’ve seen in my travels. (Read More…)

By on September 9, 2012

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area and you need something to drive to Burning Man, you’ll find that the glue-a-bunch-of-stuff-all-over-a-random-vehicle art-car approach will let your ride fit in just as effortlessly on the playa as the soccer mom’s Voyager blends in at the mall parking lot. I’m not against art cars (I consider my 1965 Impala Hell Project to be an art car at heart), but I prefer the approach of the artists who built such fine machines as the Sashimi Tabernacle Choir or the street-driven Denver Pirate Ship to the type who feels contempt for the canvas disappearing beneath their hot-glue gun. Anyway, the upshot of the large number of Bay Area art-car types who glue 10,000 plastic army men or Lucky Lager caps all over their cars is that many of them wind up in self-service wrecking yards. Here’s a Toyota Master Ace aka Toyota Space Cruiser aka Toyota Van that I spotted last weekend at an East Bay self-serve yard. (Read More…)

By on December 6, 2011

After judging at the Arse Freeze-a-Palooza 24 Hours of LeMons near Bakersfield, I headed north to visit my family in the San Francisco Bay Area before heading back to Denver. Naturally, I had to stop by at least one junkyard, and— small world!— I ran into a car that looked very familiar. (Read More…)

By on November 3, 2011

After dropping the hopped-up 406 small-block I’d built from scratch in place of the worn-out 350 I’d swapped in 1990, I was geared up to take the car to the dragstrip and see if I could better the high-16-second ETs I’d managed in Atlanta; an important part of this process involved stripping a lot of unnecessary weight out of the car. At the same time (early 1999) I was reevaluating the Impala Hell Project’s role in my life, and thinking about how I might best realize my original vision for the car which had gone from art project to daily driver. (Read More…)

By on June 1, 2011


In Part 1 of this series, I described the purchase of a 1965 Chevrolet Impala in early 1990, for use as the raw material in a complex performance/installation art piece. Within a single day of taking ownership of the car, I began the process of modifying it to suit my artistic vision. (Read More…)

By on May 26, 2011


As I explained in the introduction to this series last week, I’m finally tackling the story of the most significant car I’ve ever owned. This ’65 Impala went through ten years, 100,000 miles, and many conceptual shifts during its time with me, but it all started out as my attempt to make an art car that wasn’t A) lame and B) contemptuous of the idea of the car itself. (Read More…)

By on May 19, 2011


I put in four years and thousands of posts at Jalopnik, writing about most of my formative cars… but never once did I write the story of the car that served me longest, gave me the most miles, endured the most engine swaps, and generally laid claim to a bigger piece of my heart than all the rest of my motley lifetime fleet combined: a 1965 Chevrolet Impala sedan, built at the long-defunct South Gate Assembly Plant in Los Angeles, equipped with a 283/Powerglide drivetrain, and painted Artesian Turquoise. Today, at last, the story begins. (Read More…)

By on May 15, 2010

By on March 22, 2010

Artist Jeremy Dean goes “Back To Futurama,” with this “horse-drawn testament to the collapse of the auto-industry.” [via animalnewyork.com, HT Richard Chen]
(Read More…)

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. (Read More…)

By on January 15, 2010

adulterated but not ruined

This was supposed to turn out differently; not this CR-X, my week and this post that is. I was going to bookend the week that started out with my rant about the ugly new CR-Z with a CC featuring a pristine gen1 CR-X I had in the can. Poof! That whole folder is gone, along with ten other cars. Ouch. But I had this silver spray-painted CR-X art-car in the making as an Outtake. But you know what? It’s impossible to uglify a CRX that easily. These kids are going to have to work a lot harder before they can obliterate the clean, slick lines of one of the most iconic and loved Hondas ever. So I’m going to spend my afternoon getting a new computer set up and transferring files, and try to remember where I last saw that unblemished CR-X. (Read More…)

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