Meet BMW’s Newest Electric ‘Art Car’-Themed Designs

BMW debuts its newest “Memphis” 1980s-themed electric vehicles at Salone del Mobile.

byRob Stumpf|
Meet BMW’s Newest Electric ‘Art Car’-Themed Designs


BMW has a fantastic tradition whereby they invite world-famous designers and artists to use BMW vehicles as canvasses for their creativity. The project started in 1975, with Pennsylvania artist Alexander Calder commissioned to create the first piece, a 1975 BMW 3.0 CSL. The automobiles always have a funky fresh paint job that translates the artist's vision to a particular vehicle. Unfortunately these did not officially make it into the Art Car project, however it doesn't take away from the nontraditional styling that BMW has made into a tradition over the past 42 years.

BMW's i electric cars division teamed up with Garage Italia Customs to create these two unique designs for an i3 and i8. These cars debuted at Salone del Mobile, an Italian furniture fair held in Milan, as a tribute to '80s design company Memphis Group. Memphis was known for their crazy designs, often inspired by pop-art creations. As a result, many of its offerings were asymmetrical, geometrical, and full of color. This was special to BMW, as they cited Memphis as one of the inspirations behind the original i-series. The unconventional look and feel of the electric car was groundbreaking for BMW, and they hoped to convey that in the most logical way possible for them: an art car.

“Electric vehicles of the first generation were predominantly intended to attract attention.”

The two designs, now designated as "MemphisStyle Edition," are to be offered to new BMW i-series purchases upon customer request. That means that you may be able to see one of these make its way onto your street. No word on pricing or whether this is to be a factory-offered option.

If you're looking to get a glance of the cars, you're in luck! The i8 will be on display at Frieze New York next month (sadly, the i3 is not mentioned as taking the trip). A gallery of actual historic Art Cars can be found on BMW Group's website. You can also check out more photos, below.