From the 1970’s forward BMW proved that art doesn’t necessarily have to be a motionless, inanimate object hung on a wall through the inception of their Art Cars. BMW hired a number of famous artists throughout the years to have them interpret their trade with period BMW’s as their canvas. Artists like Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Frank Stella – most recently adding to the roster artist Robin Rhode who turned a 2010 Z4 convertible into a paint brush.
Interestingly, one car not interpreted by BMW’s Art Cars throughout the years was the second generation 5 Series – the E28. That has not stopped one Nashville man, Mike Burroughs from turning his E28 535i into a rolling work of art – one that has struck a chord with the internet car enthusiast community.
After purchasing the 535i for a daily driver/mod wagon and adding a controversially rusted hood, Mr. Burroughs’ whip had the unfortunate luck of being impacted by a semi truck during an accident. The result? A totaled E28 that took severe A-pillar damage. Burroughs, being a optimist, decided that he would rebuild the 535i from a parts car to create what we see in these pictures.
Despite an impossibly damaged car – Mike managed to make the 535i driveable once more and in the process began to further mod the car. Thankfully, the guts of the car such as the 182HP 3.4L M30B34 inline-6, remained intact and as a result the big six managed to power Mike through each passing trip and modification he made to the back-from-the-dead Bavarian.
From a lowered suspension to a set of awesomely 80’s style deep-dish BBS rims that perfectly suit the lowered 3-box designed BMW – it drips with personality. Additionally, Mike did something sacrilege to all car enthusiasts – he let his purposely rusted his entire exterior. On top of that, from inspiration that could only come from a World War II-era P51 Mustang he painted eyes and a shark mouth! However, with all of these ingredients added together you would think it would yield a hideous combination. Yet, Mike’s 535i manages to exude some of the most character you could find in a car – it begs you to look at it: a rolling piece of art.
In true modern fashion, Mike managed to document the entire process via web forums, excellent camera work shown on Flickr and the site Stance Works. The rest of the world was allowed to follow the chronicles of the E28 affectionately named “Rusty.” Rusty’s life wasn’t exactly that of an easy one after the accident but certainly one that possessed a great deal of character. In one such instance the owner drove cross-country, documenting the unfortunate overheating issues the M30 engine was plagued by – resulting in occasionally hoodless travel with the also-rusted bonnet riding atop the roof rack to provide better cooling. However, the destruction of Rusty was imminent as recently, Mike found that there were serious structural issues in the frame of the car – sadly making Rusty undriveable. As a result, he has been put out to pasture – his big engine removed and wheels stored for future projects.
It’s sad to see a car as interesting and unique as Rusty fall by the wayside but at the same time fascinating to see such a project evolve from start to finish in such an enthusiastically documented approach. We recommend going over to Stance Works to check out what remains of Rusty through photos and video and give Mike a pat on the back for daring to do something different amidst a sea of people who just didn’t get his style of art. Lemons into lemonade, indeed.
Photo Credit to Mike Burroughs