This year is the 40th anniversary of BMW 'Art Cars'. We take a look back at the German creations given unique treatment by flamboyant artists
29 May 2015

BMW is celebrating its 40th anniversary of BMW Art Cars this year.

Exhibitions in Hong Kong's Centre Pompidou, BMW's own Museum in Munich and the Concorso d'Eleganza at Lake Como showcased the first four motorsport-inspired creations decorated in outrageous colour schemes.

Forty years ago, a BMW 3.0 CSL painted by artist Alexander Calder took to the grid for the Le Mans 24 Hours and BMW's Art Cars have provided canvases for top artists since then.

The BMW Art Car Collection was the brainchild of French racing driver Herve Poulain in 1975 who invited Calder to "design a car that married artistic excellence to an already perfect object" – in this case the 3.0 CSL Le Mans challenger. Following input from BMW motorsport director Jochen Neerpasch, the first BMW Art Car was born that year.

Over the last four decades, 17 models have been given the unique 'Art Car' treatment from artists including Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, David Hockney and Jeff Koons. Highlights include the 1979 Warhol-designed BMW M1 Group 4 car, the 1995 David Hockney BMW 850 CSi and Jeff Koon’s striking BMW M3 GT2 racer of 2010.

“The BMW Art Cars provide an exciting landmark at the interface where cars, technology, design, art and motor sport meet,” said Maximilian Schöberl, Senior Vice President of Corporate and Governmental Affairs for BMW Group.

“The 40-year history of our ‘rolling sculptures’ is as unique as the artists who created them. The BMW Art Cars are an essential element and core characteristic of our global cultural engagement,” he said.

Further presentations are set to follow later this year with exhibitions in Miami, New York and Shanghai.



Our Verdict

The M3 packs a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre straight six that produces 425bhp and 405lb ft

You’d imagine that a higher roofline and four doors would hinder the M3 saloon’s capabilities compared to the M4 coupé, but you'd be wrong

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22 July 2012

I read that as Art Drivel. I never saw the point of this art on BMW thing, but I am perhaps a Philistine. Still, a nice opportunity isn't it? BMW, official cars of the London Olympics put on an art exhibition also in London. Anyone would think the whole thing was just one big commercial based junket for those in power, underwritten by the taxpayer.

  • If you want to know about a car, read a forum dedicated to it; that's a real 'long term test' . No manufacturer's warranty, no fleet managers servicing deals, no journalist's name to oil the wheels...

24 July 2012

Having been a fan of the Art Car series for many years, it was brilliant to see all 16 of the Art Cars (the 17th isn't actually a car and looks like a giant cocoon, so they didn't bring it) in one place.

Interesting that Alex failed to mention that the display includes the Andy Warhol-painted M1 from 1979 - which is considered to be the most valuable BMW in the world (although personally, I prefer Alexander Calder's 3.0 CSL).

For a free exhibition, it is absolutely fantastic.  Plus it has been kept relatively quiet, so you won't have to battle hordes of punters like you do at Goodwood FoS or Chelsea AutoLegends.  Just don't tell anyone about it...


28 December 2012

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