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The most famous of all the #Art-Cars ? It can only be Warhol’s iconic M1
The fourth machine in BMW’s series of Art Cars is probably its most famous, and certainly the most valuable. Like the triumvirate of machines that came before it the #Warhol-Art-Car is based on an iconic #BMW race car, in this case the M1 Procar that would have been the latest and greatest new thing back in 1979 when the car had just been launched.
Warhol will always be the quintessential pop artist, equally as famous for declaring soup cans as works of art or for wanting to have a department store closed so it could be preserved as a museum for posterity. He was born in Pittsburgh in 1928 and studied at the Carnegie Institute of Technology. He began his artistic career as a commercial artist and was successful in holding his own exhibition in New York as early as 1952. In 1956 his work was acknowledged with the coveted ‘Art Director’s Club Award’. 1962 saw the creation of the legendary ‘Factory’ – a negation and reversal of traditional artistic ideas as it had never been seen before. He died in New York in 1987.
He was unique among the BMW Art Car artists that had come before him as unlike Stella, Lichtenstein and Calder, Warhol actually applied the paint to the M1 himself, rather than apply his design to a scale model for it to be transferred to the actual car later.
Using foam brushes and his hands he applied his design to the car in a facility on the outskirts of Munich – it’s said it took him just 24 minutes to paint the car, and by the time the film crew had arrived to see him at work he’d already finished! The story goes that there was another BMW there which belonged to the owner of the warehouse and Warhol offered to paint it for the camera crew. The owner of the car said: “Over my dead body” – bet he regrets that now!
In the 24 minutes it took Warhol to paint the car he also painted a few spare front and rear bumper assemblies as the car was due to race at the #1979-Le-Mans-24-Hours and should one of these components have been damaged the effect of the Art Car wouldn’t quite have been the same if it sported a bumper painted in grey primer. The car was driven by Manfred Winkelhock, Hervé Poulain and Marcel Mignot and from 23rd on the grid the car finished in sixth overall, second in class.
The car didn’t race again and has subsequently travelled the world being exhibited at various museums and events. It did take to the track again for the M1’s 30th birthday celebrations at Hockenheim in 2008 where there was a grid full of M1s driven by racing drivers past and present. Jochen Neerpasch, BMW Motorsport’s first boss, was behind the wheel and as it is so valuable the rest of the field was meant to follow him around the track, but Neerpasch had a duff start due to a less than healthy clutch and many of the other cars decided to overtake… presumably giving the priceless work of art a rather wide berth!