The BMW Art Car - when art meets Bavaria

From South African artist, Esther Mahlangu to the augmented reality of Cao Fei's latest vision, here are the 18 awesomely painted BMWs for art car lovers.

Chinese artist Cao Fei is the latest artist, and first from China, to continue a fantastic and beautiful tradition created by BMW way back in the 70s. The Art Car.

Her vision for the BMW M6 GT3 art car combines augmented and virtual reality to bring to life what can only be seen to be appreciated, and downloading a special iOS app when you need to view it (a bit annoying right?)

It allows the viewer to be taken on a journey of colour as the BMW comes to life before your very eyes, painting itself and the space in a virtual light show and colour extravaganza.

To be fair, whatever it is, or however it works, it looks sick!

She follows a long line of distinguished artists who have given their artistic twist to racing car BMWs over the years. It's a huge honour to be commissioned by BMW to create an art car and Fei's vision is officially the 18th.

Here, as drawn from the Business Insider, are the 17 that came before Fei's virtual masterpiece. They might just be the coolest things you see all week, and certainly the prettiest...

Well, most of them at least because no, we also don't know or understand what the hell Olafur Eliasson created in 2007. A mollusk? An igloo? I don't know. You'll understand when you get there.


Alexander Calder's 1975 BMW 3.0 CSL Art Car.

This 3.0 CSL was designed by American artist Frank Stella's and raced at the 1976 24 Hours of Le Mans. The design was supposed to resemble a blueprint.


On Roy Lichetenstein's 1977 320i Group 5 Art Car, the designs are supposed to represent roads, sunlight, and the sky.


Andy Warhol's 1979 M1 Art Car was painted by hand in less than a half hour.
Ernst Fuchs called his 1982 635 CSi Art Car "Fire Fox on a Hare Hunt."

Robert Rauschenberg's 635CSI Art Car was first shown off to the world at the BMW Gallery in New York in 1986. At that unveiling he said “I think mobile museums are great. For me, this car is a dream come true.”​

Michael Jagamara Nelson used the aboriginal Papunya art form to paint his 1989 M3 Group A Art Car.
The 1989 Ken Done M3 Group A Art Car was painted to represent the artist's birthplace, Australia, and the beaches and different scenery that exists there.
Matazo Kayama's theme for his 1990 BMW 535i Art Car was “Snow, Moon and Flowers.”
Cesar Manrique tried to emphasize a sensation of speed through his work on the outside of the 1990 730i Art Car.
A.R. Penck is famous for his "Stick Men" designs which can also be seen on his 1991 Z1 Art Car.
Esther Mahlangu was the first woman to design a BMW art car. Hers was this 1991 525i. The designs on the car were influenced by artwork created by South African Ndebele tribe people.
Sandro Chio painted his 1992 3 Series racing Art Car to be "Like a mirror, it confronts the people who look at it.”
David Hockney's 1995 850csi Art Car was designed to give the car a see-through feel. If you look at the side, you can see the outline of a driver and a steering wheel, and in the backseat, a Dachshund leaning up against the seat.
Jenny Holzer's 1999 V12 LMR Art Car stays true to BMW's traditional blue and white color scheme. Lettering on the car is reflective so that during the day, blue from the sky paints the words to match the classic BMW coloring.
Olafur Eliasson's 2007 H2R Art Car is hydrogen powered, like the car it's built around, but has an extremely reshaped exterior. Eliasson layered the outside of the car with ice to "bring together art, design, social, and environmental issues."
Jeff Koons' 2010 M3 GT2 racing Art Car raced in the 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans. Koons wanted to reflect the amount of power the car puts out through his art.