BMW’s 20th art car is a painting on wheels bound for Le Mans at 350 km/h

BMW traveled to Paris, France, to unveil its 20th art car since the series began in 1975. The location isn’t as random as it seems: the first art car is the The brainchild of a French driver named Hervé Poulain, and the latest art car will race in France at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

With a few exceptions, notably Matazo Kayama’s 1990 535i (E34), BMW’s art cars are based on racing cars. The 20th stays true to tradition: Ethiopian-American artist Julie Mehretu started the project using the M Hybrid V8 LMDh car as a blank canvas. The livery is inspired by Mehretu’s abstract paintings and is characterized by dot grids, neon-colored sails and black markings.

“In the workshop where I had the model of the BMW M Hybrid V8, I was just sitting in front of the board and I thought: ‘what would happen if this car seemed to pass through this board and was affected by it?’ The idea was to do a remix, a mash-up of the painting. I always saw this paint flowing into the car, even the kidneys of the car were inhaling the paint,” Mehretu said.

His art car is one of two M Hybrid V8s that BMW will enter in the 2024 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This is an important car as it marks the German brand’s long-awaited return to the prototype category of racing after a 25-year hiatus. Assigned number 20, Mehretu’s rolling table will be driven by Sheldon van der Linde, Robin Frijns and René Rast. The second car (No. 15) will wear the standard BMW M racing livery.

Both cars use a gasoline-electric hybrid drivetrain comprising a 4.0-liter V8 and an electric motor. Total system output stands at 640 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque, and gives the M Hybrid V8 a top speed of up to 215 mph depending on track configuration.

The 2024 24 Hours of Le Mans will begin on June 15. BMW’s rivals will be Lamborghini, Toyota, Porsche, Ferrari and Cadillac.

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