We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is an Art Car?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
WikiMotors is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WikiMotors, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

An art car is a custom car with artistic modifications, usually performed by the owner, although it is also possible to commission an art car. Art cars tend to have over-the-top styling with colorful, lively folk art, and the modifications can vary from a relatively simple new paint job to actual structural changes. In some cases, the modifications may make it difficult to drive the vehicle on public roads, depending on the vehicle code.

Art car culture appears to date to the 1960s, when the ubiquitous Volkswagen Beetle and Bus both appeared with modifications from their owners. Some drivers simply added stickers, decals, and painted designs, while others got more elaborate with their modifications. By the 1990s, art car culture included a number of lavish examples, often using vintage cars.

The artist usually leaves the body of the car intact. People can weld on elements or add plastic and other fittings to the car to change the appearance. Art cars can turn into mobile sculptures, giant puppets, animals, and a variety of other things. People who make these kinds of vehicles may refer to themselves as “cartists,” a portmanteau of “car” and “artist,” and many train themselves rather than seek out formal training or mentoring.

Some art cars have moving parts and may generate puffs of smoke, flashes of light, and other special effects. Hydraulic risers may be part of the modifications on some cars to move the body or some of the attached elements up and down for more visual interest. Some modifications require advanced mechanical knowledge if the driver wants to add them safely, while others are relatively easy to do in a home garage.

The annual Burning Man festival often provides an environment to see art cars. People can also display them in parades and at public events. For people with vehicles no longer safe to drive on the road, such as cars with modifications that obscure vision or force the car to take up more than one lane, parades can provide a safe opportunity for driving in public and showing off modifications.

Some art cars have a political theme while others may be more whimsical in nature. The unique design is an important feature for many cartists, and those who take commissions will produce different work each time to make sure people get art car projects customized for their interests and personalities. There is also room to grow with an individual design, allowing the owner to remove and change elements over time.

WikiMotors is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WikiMotors researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
WikiMotors, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WikiMotors, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.