The BMW Art Car is back, or rather Art Cars plural, because BMW will finally make its long-standing art project a production model instead of a one-off. Granted, this latest Art Car will see a limited run of only 99 vehicles, but that’s still more than in years past. My hope is that someone will scoop one of these up and daily drive it, maybe even refill its blinker fluid regularly. One can dream.
BMW asked American artist Jeff Koons to design its Art Car again, and this is the 20th in the series. BMW calls it the 8 X JEFF KOONS, which is just a caps lock way of saying Koons exercised his weird proclivities on a BMW M850i xDrive Gran Coupé. I can’t tell you how happy I am that a sedan is getting the love it deserves, BMW’s naming conventions be damned.
I’m mostly happy that we’ll no longer have to use artificial reality to pretend we have an art car, but could own and drive one! A few of us, at least. BMW didn’t announce any pricing, but the first one will be auctioned at Christie’s in New York in April.
I’m not sure I’m in love with the design, but the carmaker explained some of the ideas that went into Koon’s second Art Car:
The design incorporates elements from Pop Art as well as geometric patterns that blend perfectly with the lines and contours of the BMW 8 Series Gran Coupé. The exploding lines of colour at the rear are reminiscent of Koons’ BMW Art Car from 2010. Koons designed the 17th BMW Art Car, the BMW M3 GT2, which competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. According to Koons, the words “POP!” painted on both sides and the swirls of wind symbolise the power and speed of THE 8 X JEFF KOONS.
The blue colour scheme is book-ended by yellow front and rear bumpers, and without those I’m not sure the 8 X JEFF KOONS would have a striking design. BMW says that Koons wanted a minimalist and conceptual car. Fair enough.
I like it more than the previous Art Car (#19) from John Baldessari, a white selfie-wearing 2016 BMW M6 GTLM. Funny enough, I’ll say that my favourite Art Car (#17) is another that traces back to Koons, the 2010 BMW M3 GT2. That one ran at Le Mans, and it made even land speeds look like light speed.
Koon’s latest design leaves me wanting more because pop art elements and a “swirl of wind” from an aero vent isn’t my idea of avant-garde. But I admit the different coloured bumpers look awesome. It doesn’t seem like a big ask to start doing accent bumpers. We get two-tone roofs. Why not two-tone bumpers, too?
BMW says that its Landshut plant will paint all the plastic outer panels, and that over 100 employees are involved in the painstaking process. The work is so meticulous, BMW claims that only two cars can be painted per week.