My Car Quest

May 30, 2024

Automobile Factory Art

Yes, it still exists, but it’s disappearing fast.

by Wallace Wyss –

“Factory art” by my definition, is artwork on a new car that might have been used in the prototype stage but often is just done to hype a new model.

Being an artist myself, I’d like to romanticize it and say it’s drawn or painted by the artist on paper, vellum or canvas, rather than created in photoshop or some other program.


Ferrari SP48 Unica

I understand the modern thinkers in the design world want to get rid of pencils, paintbrushes, paper and the like. They even want to get rid of clay models which I think is a cardinal sin as nothing tells you more about a new design than being able to run your palms over the clay.


Ferrari Monza SP1

So in the course of research over the last half century or so I have come across hundreds of factory art examples but am only keeping a half dozen because I have my own work to archive. True, the factory art of prototypes glamorizes a coming car by making it impossibly low or with wheels impossibly high, but hey maybe it was that same drawing that got the staid board of directors to approve the car for production.

I have two stories of factory art–one was when I went to an auto show and Ken Okuyama, the former Pininfarina designer, was handing out prints of the Rosso Ferrari show car which he designed. How often does that happen–receiving the drawing directly from the designer?

Wayne Kady

Wayne Kady did this concept design for GM.

At another show, at Art center College, I printed up the drawing of the Solstice roadster made by Franz Von Holzhausen, who is now famous for designing all the Teslas after the first roadster. I took it to where he was showing the new Tesla roadster and presented it to him. He was so pleased to receive his long forgotten drawing. (Maybe it went on the wall at one of his multi-million dollar houses–he is extremely well paid at Tesla).

Stutz Bearcat

Brilliant rendering of Stutz Bearcat, which became the Blackhawk.

So here’s a handful…I think the public will be less eager to keep computer generated ones but hey, don’t listen to me, I’m Old Skool…

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss art

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss will have a booth chock full of art at Concorso Italiano in Seaside, Ca during Monterey Car Week.


Wallace Wyss Art Now On Line

One of our dual-hat contributors (writer plus artist) announced that he has signed with an online gallery that will be featuring his work. The gallery posts fine art on a website called

“I’m starting out with my GTO engine painting,” says Wyss. “If there’s interest in that, I’ll add the 289 with Webers from the small block Cobra.”

“Car artists that depict engines are rare, “says Wyss. “I’ve met Sandrine Blondel from France and I can’t think of anyone else. There’s even more cutaway artists than there are engine artists.”

“I’m thrilled that I am having my work marketed by the same gallery that markets work by names like Warhol and Hopper.”

Wyss’ art can be found at this link.

Mike Gulett, Editor

Wallace Wyss art

Automobile Factory Art
Article Name
Automobile Factory Art
"Factory art" by my definition, is artwork on a new car that might have been used in the prototype stage but often is just done to hype a new model.


  1. Glen Durmisevich says

    Car designers can create fantastic art on the computer but the fine art “Old School” work is a thing of the past. It was always fun to create the art by hand, even full size renderings. My senior trans instructor Homer LaGassy at CCS used to say”” “ Don’t fall in love with your rendering, it’ll never hand in the Louvre.” Yet it’s becoming more collectible and there were some drawings and renderings hanging in the Detroit Institute of Art for their exhibit on car styling recently. Getting closer.

  2. wallace wyss says

    Of couree the DIA deserves eternal credit for allowing Diego Rivera’s multi room depiction of building Fords at the Rouge stay up (the weak kneed Rockefeller-commissioned work in NYC was painted over when they found out he was a Commie). It took the DIA over 30 years to show automotive design work after the first shoeing, i hope they do it for one week a year and have s big kickpff party, (with an art auction of course) with proceeds to charity to keep the Museum going)

  3. Rex OSteen says

    Your article made me think how technology disrupts our needs for a sense of transcendence through nostalgia. I observe how fast, easily effected, designed, and nimble today’s cars compare with the natrually-aspirated, understeered ‘hogs’ of the 1960s that I admire.

    I think of the artistic ‘evolution’ from a couples’ impossibly perfect driving joy in a 1964 Olds F-85 Cutlass advertisement, to the ‘ 69 Hurst Olds ‘beast’ cartoon distortion from which it came and snarled.

  4. wallace wyss says

    I was a little puzzled why the Detroit Institute of Arts chose such old (’50s) drawings to exhibit (Of course I know museums preserve the past) But it’s like they were too timid to show designer art right up through the ’70s. Maybe because the public would find it TOO appealing and like to the emergence of muscle cars all over again. it was safer to show ’50s designs with big fins than something newer.

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