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This Italian BMW i8 Is NOT an Art Car

The first time I saw a BMW Art Car in real life was about six years ago in 2010 while traveling through New York City. I knew Art Cars existed, but never actually made it to the BMW Welt museum in Munich to admire their bright and exotic custom paint schemes. 

After grabbing a coffee at the Starbucks off of Columbus Circle in Manhattan, I literally stumbled upon an E34 Art Car parked in a tiny space inside of the Museum of Arts and Design. I know what you’re thinking: one does not simply stumble upon an Art Car.

Through a window the bright colors caught my eye, and I immediately recognized it as special. The car was in town for a special event for a short period of time, so the chance encounter was a stroke of luck on my part. I have not seen another in the six years since that day. Photo quality courtesy of my iPhone 4, thanks Apple.

Art Car

This particular car is a 1991 525i and was painted by Esther Mahlangu in 1991. Mahlangu was the first female and first African artist to join the program. This car is a part of The Global Africa Project which explores the impact of African visual culture on contemporary art.

While this E34 was hand painted – as all of the Art Cars are – the new i8 is neither an Art Car nor is it hand painted. It is however, heavily inspired by the Art Cars that came before it.

BMW Italy is now celebrating 50 years of BMW history in their country, and have covered an i8 in the art work of Giacomo Balla in the style of a classic Art Car. This i8 will race in the Mille Miglia 2016 following the BMW 328 driven by Sergio Solero, President and CEO of BMW Italy.

From the official press release, “The BMW i8 Futurism Edition,” said Sergio Solero, President and CEO of BMW Italia, “represents the pairing of a sports car of the future with Italian creativity and art. For this occasion, we have devised a project with an important partner like Garage Italia Customs, one of the best specialists in car customization. This initiative is a perfect fit with the cultural program which, on the occasion of our celebration of the 50 years of BMW history in Italy, we have developed even further in order to witness to our commitment to and integration in the fabric of the country.”

The i8’s custom finish was created by the team at Garage Italia Customs. Based on the hashtags used on their post, it appears that the car’s finish is the result of an expertly designed and executed vinyl wrap. Here’s another photo from their Instagram feed.


For more information about the Art Car program at BMW, click here. To see my favorite Art Car of all time, click here.

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