When fine design meets artistic vision... Our Top Five 'ArtCars'
Many owners of classic cars will be quick to tell you that cars can be works of art - especially their own.

Whilst there's no doubt that car design can be very beautiful and even artistic, but cars which actually include or have become artworks are a slightly different kettle of fish. Awe-inspiring, wacky or just plain tasteless, 'ArtCars' can attract a particular breed of collector.

Here are five of our favourites:

Frank Stella 'Polar' BMW

One of 16 official Art Cars created for BMW to race in worldwide series, including the famous 24 Hours of LeMans, the Frank Stella model was the only privately commissioned example. Peter Gregg personally ordered the car from BMW Motorsport GmbH.

Stella then painted the car to resemble his "Polar Coordinates" series of artworks, in tribute to his and Gregg's mutual friend, Ronnie Peterson - making this car arguably more 'personal' than the others in BMW's series.

Peterson was killed in a Formula 1 crash in 1978. Stella/Gregg's BMW is expected to sell for $450,000 to $600,000 at a Bonhams auction this week (August 18-19).

César's McLaren F1

In the 1990s the McLaren F1 was spoken of with awe everywhere. In 1994, the British car magazine Autocar opined that:

"The F1 will be remembered as one of the great events in the history of the car, and it may possibly be the fastest production road car the world will ever see."

Cesar McLaren
The menacing McLaren F1 as decorated by César

In March 1998, it set the record for the fastest road car in the world. So really the only thing it was missing was some decent paintwork.

French artist César obliged in 1995 with stunning results.

John Lennon's psychedelic Rolls Royce

Many consider auctioneer Hervé Poulain's move in 1975 to take part in LeMans with a decorated car to be the beginning of the phenomenon. But whether that was the first move into racing for ArtCars, it was not certainly the first time a classic automobile had been spectacularly painted.

Psychedelic: John Lennon's yellow submar... er, Rolls Royce

John Lennon created an unforgettable piece with assistance of The Fool, a group of Dutch gypsy artists - the same group who painted Lennon's caravan in his garden in Weybridge. They designed and painted the pattern of flowers on a yellow background.

The Beatles used it as their main means of transport in their final years, and it was later used by the Rollin Stones and Bob Dylan. In 1985, Canadian millionaire Jim Pattison had bought it for $2.29m - a world record for a car at the time.

Jeff Koons vibrant BMW

A more recent LeMans Beemer, raced in June 2010, was a colourful affair adorned by Jeff Koons.

Using a BMW M3 GT2 as his canvas, the design was inspired by collected images of race cars and graphics, vibrant colours and speed which were then layered into a digital collage.

The results speak for themselves.

Check out the go-faster stripes... Koons's work

 Ayrton Senna's 'Airfix' McLaren

The name 'Ayrton Senna' is one of a few from racing that have transcended the sport to become famous around the world. The Brazilian superstar is regarded as a hero and a saint in his homeland, and as one of the all time greats everywhere.

Last week, auctioneers Coys offered one of the F1 cars which Senna drove as champion. The results have yet to be made public, but it was expected to sell for up to $80,000, which seems modest enough.

The car was not as Senna drove it, however. In 1992, artistJay Burridge converted it into an extraordinary 'Airfix' sculpture - taking it apart and displaying it on a wall as an 'assembly kit'.

The design chimes with Senna's own interest in model vehicles. He was known to fly a radio-controlled helicopter at race meetings.


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