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Andy Warhol’s “Cars” Exhibition To Open At Petersen Automotive Museum

Mercedes-Benz C111 Experimental Vehicle, 1970 (1986)

For the first time in more than 30 years in North America, Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles will be displaying “Andy Warhol: Cars – Works from the Mercedes-Benz Art Collection”. Opening on July 23, the exhibition will be open to the public and will showcase a rare and exclusive look at the connection between the “Cars” artwork series and the vehicles they represent. The exhibition will be held at the Armand Hammer Foundation Gallery on the first floor of the museum and it will showcase five of the eight Mercedes-Benz vehicles that was depicted in Warhol’s final commission.

The collection has gathered some of the most iconic and valuable cars in the world. On loan from the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Germany, a 1937 W 125 will be on display. Initially produced for Grand Prix racing, it features a supercharged eight-cylinder engine that can produce 637 hp. For three decades, it was considered to be one of the most powerful road-racing cars released.

Also coming from the Mercedes-Benz Museum is the experimental 1970 Mercedes-Benz C 111-II. It used a highly aerodynamic fiberglass body and tri-rotor Wankel engine which had a top speed of 200 mph, later on its engine was replaced with a turbocharged diesel engine.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum will be providing the 1954 W 196 which was previously driven by the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio and Sir Stirling Moss. The Formula One car was able to claim two world championships before Mercedes decided to take a three-decade hiatus from competitive racing.

All on loan from the Mercedes-Benz Art Collection, there will be forty original Warhol artworks from the “Cars” series that will be presented along with their historical vehicles.

Mercedes-Benz W125 Grand Prix Car, 1937 (1986)

Warhol was known to have started the Pop art movement back in the 1960s. He was renowned for his iconography of everyday items like Campbell’s Soup cans, Billo boxes, and Coca-Cola bottles. He also created colorful renderings of a lot of famous figures and celebrities. Recently, his “Shot Sage Blue Marilyn” portrait of Marilyn Monroe was sold for a record-breaking $195 million.

In 1986, Mercedez-Benz commissioned the “Cars” series as part of their 100th anniversary after they saw Warhol’s silkscreen prints of its 300 SL Coupe. The original plan was that Warhol would create 80 pieces of art on 20 different Mercedes models that represent the German automaker’s 100-year history. Unfortunately, only 49 works were completed with 36 screen prints on canvas and 13 drawings before Warhol unexpectedly passed after a routine surgery in 1987. The project was left unfinished.

Petersen Automotive Museum Executive Director Terry L. Karges shared, “Andy Warhol was an iconic and influential figure that pioneered Pop art and culture. Not many have seen his automotive works, so we are excited to display them to the public alongside the unique vehicles that inspired his creative visions. It is an exclusive exhibit that appeals to both admirers of fine art and amazing automobiles.”

In an adjacent gallery, the 1974 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow that Warhol previously owned will also be on display. After Warhol became successful as an artist, he bought the Rolls-Royce new and kept ownership of the same until his demise. What is interesting to note is that Warhol himself never had a driver’s license. He never drove the Silver Shadow and was always a passenger, relying on his friends to drive it for him. Over the years, he had accumulated a long list of famous chauffeurs who drove the Silver Shadow for him including Mick Jagger and Liza Minnelli.

For more information regarding Petersen Automotive Museum or to purchase tickets, please visit their website at