The art car has a history of creating an avenue for car owners to express their individuality in the increasingly uniform nature of the automotive world. What began as a hippie movement in the late 1960s has transformed into auto brand sponsored art.
The content and meaning of these vehicles vary with each art car and often express political, social, personal or purely decorative themes.
Some art cars are seen as a popular movement engaged in rescuing the automobile from corporate uniformity, according to the Art Car Museum in Houston, while others represent how minorities, subcultures and modern artists influence the cultural life of the United States.
Scroll down to see some of the coolest art cars of the last decade.
Lamborghini Huricán EVO
Lamborghini commissioned Italian painter Paolo Troilo to explore the power of man and machine on a Huricán EVO. On display at the Palazzo Serbelloni in Milan this past November, Troilo painted an expression of man’s power, its fusion with Lamborghini’s bull symbol and the concept of myth using his fingers.
BMW M6 GT3
Chinese artist Cao Fei blended the tradition of BMW with the futuristic style of her digital art to create this multimedia approach to the BMW M6 GT3. There are three distinct components to the piece: a video that focuses on a time traveling spiritual practitioner, augmented reality features picturing colorful light particles (accessible through a dedicated app) and the BMW M6 GT3 race car in its original carbon black.
Bentley Flying Spur
As an encapsulation of the British luxury carmaker’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, designer Rich Morris was hired to paint the “Unifying Spur,” a customized Flying Spur that was unveiled just before Pride Month 2021. All nine colors of the progress flag are represented, as well as the words “Love is love” traced through faces, figures and shapes.
Hyundai Tucson N Line
The Korean automaker commemorated the European launch of the Tucson’s N Line in 2019 by hiring German artist Andreas Preis to create the “Drive a Statement” Project Tucson. Hyundai’s Engine Red serves as the base color. The black, white, red and blue colors draw focus to the N Line’s aggressive and sporty design.
In December 2020, Porsche collaborated with American artist Richard Phillips to create the Taycan Artcar live at the Leuehof pop-up restaurant in Switzerland. To create the Taycan Artcar, Phillips applied his large-scale Queen of the Night painting from 2010 which was inspired by the work of Swiss landscape artist Adolf Dietrich.
Volkswagen Golf Alltrack, Atlas and Tiguan
In support of the Professional Ski Instructors of America and the American Association of Snowboard Instructors, Volkswagen commissioned artist Mimi Kvinge to paint the Golf Alltrack, along with the Atlas and Tiguan. The wintery peaks of the design pay homage to the Pacific Northwest, where Kvinge is from.
The cars have appeared at major ski and snowboard resorts to promote educational training for ski and snowboard instructors across the country.
Porsche 996 Swan
Scottish digital artist Chris Labrooy was offered the opportunity to transport one of his digital works into real life by Porsche. The swan, a traditional symbol of happiness, was chosen. The Porsche 911 Type 996 was the first Porsche sold in China and the 996 Swan was designed to pay homage to its 20th anniversary in China.
The artcar made its first public appearance in Shanghai, China at the beginning of November 2021 and is expected to make more appearances in the near future.
Volkswagen Scirocco S
Volkswagen enthusiast Jason Whipple spent the better part of a decade taking apart and rebuilding his 1980 Scirocco S from scratch with a new engine management system, replaced the transmission, and added custom wheels. Whipple then partnered with a graphic artist to hand-paint the vehicle with a rainbow motif and graphics.
The vehicle sparked interest when it was unveiled at the 2018 SEMA Auto show as it now offers social commentary, sporting phrases like “The future is our fault,” and “Things won’t change until we do.”
Maserati designed this SUV with brand ambassador and chef Massimo Bottura to show off its Fuoriserie customization program. The colorful splashes hearken back to Bottura’s youth of racing vintage cars through the Italian countryside with his brothers, peppering them with mud. The multi-colored display that wraps around the car’s exterior is mirrored by similar inserts in the cabin.
The car was displayed at the 2021 Motor Valley Fest in Modena, Italy.
Billed as the world’s first tattooed car, the premium carmaker hired London-based tattoo artist Claudia De Sabe in 2020 to transfer her 15 years of experience working on humans to cars. Using a Dremel tool to carve off the paint, she etched a koi fish and waves onto the side of the UX while working in other motifs of Japanese art throughout the body.