Mobile Masterpieces: The History of BMW's Art Cars

1976 BMW 3.0 CSL by Alexander Calder

BMW Art Car # 1 - 1975 3.0 CSL by Alexander Calder

BMW’s Art Car tradition didn’t start within the corporate halls in Munich. Instead, French racing driver Hervé Poulain hired his friend and American artist Alexander Calder to paint a race-spec 3.0 CSL that Poulain planed on racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

1976 BMW 3.0 CSL by Alexander Calder

The standard 3.0 CSL is a notable car in its own right -- it’s widely renowned as the first product tuned by BMW’s Motorsports (M) Division, and held its own both on the road and the track. Road cars used a 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder engine producing just over 200 horsepower, but race-spec cars -- like this Art Car -- utilized a 3.2-liter version capable of throwing down 480 horsepower.

Once Calder added his signature touches to the “Batmobile,” Poulain took the car to Le Mans, fielding the race car-turned-artwork along with drivers Sam Posey and Jean Ghichet. Unfortunately for the team, the car retired from the race due to a faulty prop shaft, but sparked an artistic tradition that continues to this very day.

soupedupmoe
Interesting tradition from BNW. my favorite is the 92 3-series(#13), but the old flame motif in the 82 (#3) is nicely done too. The design in #15 must have been thought up the night before. interesting article.
gep10
Very well written and researched article!!
carmom
Great article!! I never thought of cars as art but this discussion helped me to appreciate what these artists did. Very cool!

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