How Art Cars Work

Who makes art cars?

Almost every walk of life has a representative in the art car world: men, women, young, old, rich, and poor. Kelly Lyles, for instance, has made a car called "Excessories ODD-yssey" that is covered in shoes, purses, and jewelry. Hyler Bracey has spent more than half a million dollars to build one of the most expensive art cars ever, "Big Horn," which counts among its many horns and whistles the largest horn in the world. Even famed mentalist Uri Geller has created an art car covered in spoons and forks he's bent with his mind.

Some artists can even be commissioned to create an art car for someone else. Lyles has painted a Toyota Prius with peacocks, parrots, and herons for a client. But most do it for themselves, and the creative process is as personal as the finished product.

One thing is certain, no matter what kind of art car we're talking about: it's going to get a lot of attention, and so will its driver. While a lot of art car creators are in it for the attention, some are surprised by the number of people who smile, wave and ask questions. "People are real characters," said Blank. "They're eccentric, they're okay with who they are, and they wear it on their sleeve. But some are shy and not comfortable being in their car."

A lot of art car creators love the attention and make costumes to match their art cars. Lyles wore head-to-toe leopard print when driving her car "Leopard Bernstein." Blank wears a suit covered in flash bulbs when he appears with his "Camera Van." Practicality is not necessarily as important as the total look -- Blank, for instance, can't sit down in his "Flash Suit."

The number-one question people ask art car drivers is, "How do you wash it?" The answer: Carefully, with a garden hose and never at the car wash. Lyles says she only washes her art cars once a year, while Blank notes that "washing them is not fun, and some of the parts can't get wet."

Let's take a look at the nuts-and-bolts of creating one of these attention-grabbing beasts -- sometimes with literal nuts and bolts. And a lot of glue, paint and care.

More to Explore