By   May 20, 2013

Andy Warhol’s 1979 BMW M1 Art Car

Andy Warhol’s 1979 BMW M1 Art Car

The famed Andy Warhol’s 1979 BMW M1 Art Car that was raced at the 24 Hours of Le Mans is one of the most famout BMWs to ever be produced. The story of the car’s paint job is that of legend. The car was painted completely by hand, unlike other art cars where the artist created the artwork on a scale model. The story goes that Warhol was able to paint the entire car in just 24 minutes.

This happened so fast that a video crew that was supposed to film the paint job missed pretty much the entire thing. Apparently, since the paint job was so fast that the pop artist said that he could paint another car for the film crew and pointed to a new BMW. The new car was owned by the owner of the paint shop where the M1 was painted. The owner said, no, which one would think might not have been the smartest thing in hind sight.

The Le Mans racing car will be on display along with other important BMWs at the Saratoga Automobile Museum. It isn’t everyday that we get to see such incredible automobiles, let alone a car that truely is a work of art. So, if you are near the New York area get over the the museum before November 3rd to make sure you don’t miss the exhibit.

Press Release

Andy Warhol’s 1979 BMW M1 Art Car will be the center piece of the exhibition “BMW – The Ultimate Driving Machine”, which opens this weekend at the Saratoga Automobile Museum. The exhibition will also feature the BMW 3.0 CSL which won the Daytona 24 Hour race in 1976. The exhibition, which features a retrospective of BMW cars and motorcycles, will run until November 3, 2013. The array of BMW automobiles will include road cars and race cars, both from the modern era, as well as pre-war. The exhibition will also celebrate 90 Years of BMW Motorcycles.

“This exhibition at the Saratoga Automotive Museum will provide visitors a great look at BMW’s long heritage and provide a sense of how the company has evolved to become the leading premium automobile and motorcycle manufacturer in the world,” said Ludwig Willisch – President and CEO of BMW of North America. “It will also show just how integral motorsports has been throughout the company’s history.”

“This exhibit looks to be one of the best we’ve ever had at the Museum,” said Museum Chairman Charlie Montano. “ Working with BMW to create this one of a kind auto experience in upstate New York was thrilling,” continued Exhibit Committee Chair Alan Rosenblum. Exhibit Committee member Bob Bailey added “Both BMW of North America and our local dealer, Keeler Motor Car have contributed hours of time, effort and resources to make this a reality”.

Andy Warhol set about work in an equally unabashed manner after being commissioned to transform a BMW M1 into an Art Car as he thought best. All of the other artists who had previously decorated BMW racing cars had done so by painting a draft version on a scaled-down model This was then transposed to the actual car by assistants under the artist’s supervision. Warhol, however, was the first to paint everything himself. By transferring his ideas to the car in this spontaneous and direct manner, he could clearly stamp his own character on it.

Warhol explained the sweeping strokes he chose as follows: “I tried to portray speed pictorially. If a car is moving really quickly, all the lines and colors are blurred.”

The first and only time this rolling work of art took part in a race was at the Le Mans 24-hour Race in 1979. It was driven by Manfred Winkelhock from Germany and the Frenchmen Herve Poulain and Marcel Mignot. They finished sixth overall and second in their class.

A BMW 3.0 CSL won the 12 Hours of Sebring in March of 1975. A pair of BMW 3.0 CSLs were entered by Peter Gregg Racing for the 1976 IMSA season. The number 59 car, featured at the museum, was driven by Peter Gregg, Brian Redman and John Fitzpatrick, in the 24 Hours of Daytona in January/February 1976 and scored BMW’s second major endurance race win in the United States. It was campaigned in 1977 and 1978 by Kemper Miller when it scored several more wins. Today this car is owned by Kevin Ladd and cared for by Jack Deren, who has a long history with the car.

The display of BMW automobiles at the museum will feature the marque’s most renowned prewar model, the BMW 328. The 328 dominated the racing scene in the late 1930s and early 1940s and will be shown both in road form as well as a custom-bodied 328MM, prepared for the Mille Miglia, one of the most vaunted endurance races of its day. The 1950s saw BMW produce such divergent models as the Isetta “bubble” car as well as the 507 Roadster, designed by Count Albrecht von Goertz. The exhibition will include the spiritual successor to the 507, the BMW Z8 which arrived in 2000 – 45 years after the 507.

For many, the car that put BMW on the map in the US was the 2002, which received wide-spread media attention, including a review in the April 1968 edition of “Car and Driver” entitled “Turn Your Hymnal to 2002”. The higher-performance 2002tii, introduced in 1972, will be featured.

Today, BMW M is widely recognized as the pinnacle of performance but in the 1980s, it was all new. One of the first M cars to arrive in the US was the 1988 M5. It was based on the second-generation BMW 5 Series Sedan and powered by 3.5-liter inline six similar to the engine used in the M1 super car.

The second generation BMW M5 stunned the racing world when the large four-door Sedan took to the track in the IMSA Super Car series… and won! A mate to the car that David Donohue drove to the 1994 Super Car Championship will be part of the exhibition.

The mid-1990s also saw the introduction of the second generation BMW M3, which will be featured. The BMW M3 took to the track in the US in 1995 and began an era of motorsports success that lasted for more than 15 years and spanned three generations of M3. In fact one of BMW M3 GTs, which competed in the American LeMans Series from 2009 – 2012, will also be on display.

BMW’s two-wheeled heritage will also be a key part of the exhibition. “BMW’s motorcycle heritage dates back even farther than its automotive heritage,” stated Peter Nettesheim, renowned BMW motorcycle collector, curator of the motorcycle portion of the exhibit, and operator of the Nettesheim Museum in Huntington, New York. In 2013 the company celebrates 90 years of BMW Motorcycles. In the 1920s BMW quickly earned a reputation for speed and reliability. The use of an opposing-twin “boxer” engine and shaft drive, unique in those early days, remains in use today on many models of BMW Motorcycles. The exhibit will feature three motorcycles from the 1920s including a 1925 R32, the first model, as well as a 1928 R63, featuring a 750 cc engine and a 1929 R62 Touring model which established BMW’s reputation for producing motorcycles ideally suited to long distance travel, a reputation that remains to this day. 1929 saw the first racing championships for BMW on two-wheels, a trend that continues to this day.

Also featured will be a 1931 R16 and a 1934 R11 with a stamped-steel frame. One highlight of the exhibition will be an unrestored military 1942 R12 found in a barn in France.

A 1955 R25/3 featuring a very economical single-cylinder engine is an example of a model best suited for a recovering post WWII Germany. Throughout its history BMW motorcycles have gained a solid reputation for authority use, even here in the United States. A 1969 R60/2 German “Polizei” police motorcycle will represent an earlier example.

BMW Motorcycles have been widely known for their two-cylinder engines, a legacy which continues to this day. A later example can be seen in the R100RT on display.

Innovation is every-bit a hallmark for BMW Motorcycles as it is for BMW automobiles. In the 1980s BMW gained a reputation for the performance and smoothness of its 4-cylinder motorcycle engines. In 1989, BMW became the first manufacturer to offer ABS brakes on a motorcycle. In the same year, BMW also introduced the K1, it was the most aerodynamic motorcycle on the road, which will also be seen in the exhibit. That innovation can be seen today with BMW’s first-ever super bike, the S1000RR.