Back in 1975, French racing driver, Hervé Poulain, wanted to have an artist paint a canvas on a race car for him to drive. Poulain ended up getting American painter, Alexander Calder, to paint a 1975 BMW 3.0 CSL race car, a car Poulain ended up racing. This became the beginning of a tradition that would last until today where BMWs, both race cars and road cars, become canvases for painters to create impressive works of art. To date, there have been 17 BMW Art Cars, so let’s take a look at the best of them.
5. Roy Lichtenstein’s BMW 320i – In 1977, American painter, Roy Lichtenstein, painted a BMW 320i Group B race car and he wanted to depict the road and countryside telling the car where to go. It’s an interesting design, one that does bring the countryside to mind. “The design also shows the countryside through which the car has travelled. One could call it an enumeration of everything a car experiences – only that this car reflects all of these things before actually having been on a road.” said Lichtenstein. It’s also a cool looking race car in its own right, as it’s body work makes the E21 3 Series look similar to the 3.0 CSL race car.
4. A.R. Penck’s BMW Z1 – The BMW Z1 was one of the most interesting roadsters to ever come from BMW with its crazy doors that slid down into the body instead of opening normally. In 1991, Penck, a Dresden-born artist, painted the Z1 with shapes and designs reminiscent of prehistoric cave paintings . It’s an interesting idea to paint cave paintings on a car that, at the time, had some very intriguing technological ideas. A cool blend of old-school and new-school. Plus it just looks cool.
3. Sandro Chia’s BMW 3 Series Touring Racer – The E36 BMW 3 Series isn’t the best looking BMW of all time, and can be quite plain. But Chia’s 3 Series Touring racer looks great. The Florence, Italy native decided to paint the car until there wasn’t a square inch of the original paint left, graffiti style. “The automobile is a much coveted object within our society” said Chia of the 3 Series. “It is the centre of attraction. People look at it. This car reflects those looks.” There are faces drawn into it, various different colors and shapes that it genuinely looks like graffiti. It’s very cool and very different.
2. Andy Warhol’s BMW M1 – Probably the most famous BMW Art Car was the BMW M1 painted by Andy Warhol back in 1979. Andy Warhol is certainly the most famous painter to paint a BMW, regardless of your feelings on him. Warhol always had interesting taste in art, and most of the time only he understood it, but this BMW M1 is very good looking, much better than his Campbell’s Soup cans. On his painted BMW M1, Warhol said “I have tried to give a vivid depiction of speed. If a car is really fast, all contours and colours will become blurred”. It helps that the BMW M1 was a gorgeous car to begin with, but the Art Car looks very cool and one of the best BMW Art Cars of all time.
1. Jeff Koons’ 2010 BMW M3GT2 – While Warhol’s M1 might be more famous, Jeff Koons’ BMW M3GT2 is absolutely stunning. Not only is the E92 BMW M3GT2 an awesome car, but Koons’ Art Car version is exciting and gives the impression of speed and power. “These race cars are like life, they are powerful and there is a lot of energy,” said Koons. “You can participate with it, add to it and let yourself transcend with its energy. There is a lot of power under that hood and I want to let my ideas transcend with the car – it’s really to connect with that power.” Everything Koons said about the car makes sense, as his M3GT2 looks like it’s exploding. It’s awesome and fantastic looking and the best looking BMW Art Car since their inceptions.
The rest of BMW’s Art Cars over the years can be found here, so let us know which ones you think should be in the top five.