In a recent social media contest special by BMW Group Classic, Andy Warhol’s BMW M1 art car received special recognition. While most car companies can boast about bespoke models that are customized in limited quantities, BMW has something else entirely. Instead of one-offs and custom constructions, the German automaker proudly turns their automobiles into canvases for artists.

This unique approach started in 1975 when Hervé Poulain, a French auctioneer and racecar driver, requested to have his ride painted by an artist. Taking up his challenge was Alexander Calder, an American artist and friend to the Frenchman, working on his BMW 3.0 CSL.

In true Warhol fashion, this classic sports car dons an abstract coat of paint that was reportedly finished in just 30 minutes. It appears that the icon of Pop Art was infusing speed into his work as an homage to the racing nature of the BMW M1. Moreover, according to the artist, this particular machine is “more successful than the artwork.”

BMW celebrates the creation of this awesome example of pop art that’s 40 years old right now. Capturing images of this dynamic art piece falls into the hands of Stephan Bauer. Framing it within an old factory building in Cologne, Germany, the result is a masterful play of light. The colorful BMW M1 art car stands out from the somber surroundings, which is probably why the company loves it. This is not merely for show either. In 1979, this Andy Warhol creation saw action at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Drivers Manfred Winkelhock, Marcel Mignot, and Hervé Poulain took turns sitting behind the wheel.

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Images courtesy of BMW