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on April 18th, 2016

BMW is celebrating 2016 as its centenary year and the world is celebrating with it. The maker of some of the most memorable automobiles of all time, BMW has stood tall in the test of times to become one of the most sought after automobile manufacturers of the world. BMW makes arguably the most driver oriented and driving pleasure filled cars in the world while at the same time manufactures the best superbike along with the grandest adventure tourer motorcycle the world has ever seen, making it a company that is a world leader in both, four wheeled and the two wheeled industry at the same time, an unmatched feat. Among the iconic cars and motorcycles that have originated from the realm of BMW and the legends that live with them, there is one particular aspect of BMW that stands out, both in its historic value and the sheer scope of it and it is the very special and the magnificent BMW Art Cars projects.

BMW Art Cars

Finding its true origins in the world of motorsports racing, the magnificent BMW Art Cars are the true celebration of racing and a magnificent celebration of colours too, for the liveries make racing as much as what the cars do. This intimate relationship of Racing and colours captivated the French auctioneer and a racing driver Hervé Poulain, the man who sparked a revolution as he aspired to combine two worlds of art and cars. Hervé asked his friend Alexander Calder who was a designer to create a toy car and a scale model, later Herve found the likeminded passionate car and art lover in Joachen Neerpasch, who was the then head of BMW Racing Sport., and thus the magnificent BMW Art Cars were born.

BMW Art Car 1975 with Alexander Calder and Herve Poulain

As it was supposed to be a celebration of racing and of art, it was imperative that the art car to be developed showcased the crucial and integral link between these two worlds and hence was supposed to prove its road worthiness and racing pedigree for at least one time. Thus there is no doubt that every magnificent BMW Art Car ever created has participated in the legendary 24 hour Le Mans race leaving the risk behind that the endurance may destroy the artwork but it had to be done for the sake of passion that runs through both worlds and it also created a level of challenge that both the art and the car world took happily.

BMW Art Car 1975 Livery

Since the first ever magnificent BMW Art Car was created in the year 1975, this celebration of art and racing has through last 40 years has given the world 18 iconic cars, the most recent one being in the year 2010. Here are the first four cars from the list –

  1. 1975 BMW 3.0 CSL Art Car by Alexander Calder

As the history of The magnificent BMW Art Cars say, the first time a BMW car became a work of art was in 1975, when Alexander Calder, inspired by the vision of Herve Poulain, a French racer and an auctioneer.  This car was a sensation in the mid 70’s since the world was intrigued by the idea of a car being presented as a work of art. To convert the 480Ps BMW 3.0 CSL, Calder used only primary colours and painted them in the form of broad swathes across the bodywork of the base car. It creates an illusion of movement within the picture as a whole as the use of contrasting colours within the car’s individual elements from its structure.

BMW Art Car 1975 Alexander Calder Front Three Quarter

What captivated the world even further was the fact that this BMW Art Car was not even shy of outside world and it participated in the 24-hour race in Le Mans. Sadly, Calder passed away shortly after creating the first magnificent BMW Art Car and creating a revolution, making this artwork among the last works he ever did.

  1. 1976 BMW 3.0 CSL Art Car by Frank Stella

After waking up the world to the stunning piece of art and racing that came together to make the first ever of the magnificent BMW Art Car, BMW enlisted the American artist Frank Stella who was a passionate motor racing fan also. The artist was known for this random style of painting, but in order to create the second iteration of the BMW Art Car he changed his style and found inspiration in the technical prowess of BMW in its car making. It resulted in a surreal and an intriguing art car that looked like a square quid with smoothness along with a sort of evenness and of precision that resembles a lot with a giant oversized graph paper.

BMW Art Car 1976 3.0 CSL by Frank Stella

Frank added his flair further to the design by creating a dotted line that ran across the bodywork with this grid, implementing an idea that Stella might have wanted to carve out the car and reassemble it in an all new shape. Those known to the work of Stella understands this grid pattern to be a feature than Stella extensively used in his creative period and he used these grids as the base above which the main dram took place in the paintings.

BMW Art Car 1976 3.0 CSL and Frank Stella

  1. 1977 BMW 320i Art Car by Roy Lichtenstein

To take the game forward, it was Roy Lichtenstein who got the chance to create the third magnificent BMW Art Car in 1977 and this car is among the most famous art cars of all time;  the BMW 320 Group 5. Lichtenstin was famous for his comic strip style of paintwork and it reflected in the art car he created, the way he created a flawless, created one of the fastest moving pieces of art the world has ever seen. In the artists words he had invested as much thought and effort in creating this car as he possibly could.

BMW Art Car 1977 320i Group 5 by Roy Lichtenstein

He also said about the paintwork, “The painted lines symbolize the road the car has to follow and the artwork also portrays the surroundings through which the car is being driven. Even the sky and sunlight are to be seen … you could list all the things a car experiences – the only difference is that this car mirrors all these things even before it takes to the road.” No doubt an immaculate piece of engineering made immortal by a timeless artwork by the man who is considered to be the father of American Pop art.

  1. 1979 BMW M1 Art Car by Andy Warhol

In its fourth iteration, it was the Pop Art legend Andy Warhol that got the opportunity to design the next magnificent BMW Art Car in 1977. The difference this time around was that Andy worked on the full scale car directly and painted the car himself as against everyone before him who worked on a scale model. It is said that for Andy Warhol painting a car seemed natural as his studio was called as the factory. As per Warhol, he wanted to portray speed pictorially on the car. He said if a car moves really quickly all its lines and colours and designs will become blurred.

BMW Art Car 1979 M1 Group

Warhol worked on the full scale car while it is reported that he took in all just 23 minutes to paint the entire car on which he ran his fingers through the paint in order to leave is personal touch to the art he created. After that Warhol had said that he loved the BMW M1 and that the car was better than the work of art itself.

BMW Art Car 1979 M1 Group 4 with Andy Warhol

The M1 Art car raced in the Le Mans only once where it finished sixth overall and second in class. It was driven by the German, Manfred Winkelhock and the Frenchman Hervé Poulain and Marcel Mignot.

BMW Art Car 1979 M1 Group 4 Display

There is more to the history of these magnificent BMW Art Cars projects and we will be talking about the rest of the cars from the list soon. Stay tuned with us, Drive Safe!

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