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BMW’s 20th Art Car Is Rolling Painting, Set to Debut at 24 Hours of Le Mans

by | May 27, 2024

BMW takes its 20th art car to the track as the company prepares to make a splash at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race later this month after a long absence away from the winner’s circle.

BMW is celebrating its 20th art car by making a styling statement ahead of its racing debut in June

BMW has had a long history of wowing the world with its lineup of art cars. While the bulk of these art pieces are based on racing vehicles, there have been occasions where BMW has allowed artists to go wild on a road car. However, for its 20th art-themed creation, BMW has decided to stick with a familiar formula and has once again made an art car that combines track-ready speed with stunning good looks.

This latest expression of art is not only pushing the boundaries of style but is also looking to make a big impact with BMW confirming that the car will be competing in the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France in June as part of the German car brand’s return to the prototype class at the event.

A portrait of speed

BMW M Hybrid Art Car rear view

BMW’s 20th art car combines beauty with raw speed

This latest art car uses an M Hybrid V8 LMDh race car as the canvas with BMW commissioning the artistic services of Ethiopian-born American artist Julie Mehretu to provide the vivid hues and shapes that adorn the car’s racing livery with BMW saying that it draws heavy inspiration from the abstract paintings that the artist is known for. That includes some of the core trademarks that she’s known for using in her work with the livery featuring dot grids, neon-hued veils, and black markings. The car itself also comes with a number of distinctive styling features including the comically large twin kidney-shaped grilles at the front of the car.

“In the studio, where I had the model of the BMW Hybrid V8, I was just sitting in front of the painting and I thought: ‘what would happen if this car seemed to go through that painting and becomes affected by it?’ The idea was to make a remix, a mash-up of the painting. I kept seeing that painting kind of dripping into the car. Even the kidneys of the car inhaled the painting,” Mehretu explained.

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In addition to making its mark in the art world, this art car will also help celebrate BMW’s return to the prototype class after being absent from the event for 25 years. Mehretu’s car will be one of two M Hybrid racers that BMW will enter in the event and will be assigned with the #20. It will be joined by the #15 M Hybrid that will be driven by Sheldon van der Lind, Robin Frijins, and Rene Rast. Unlike its art-adorned counterpart, it will have BMW’s standard racing livery on full display.

Both cars are powered by a 4.0-liter V8 that’s supplemented by an electric motor. BMW says that the setup produces a combined system output of 640 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque with the engine also capable of helping the M Hybrid reach a top speed of 215 mph if the car is given a long straightaway to work with. Assuming the #20 art car survives the event without incident, look for the model to potentially follow the same path as some of BMW’s other art cars, with the bespoke racing machine eventually ending up in a museum.


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