The car that started BMW's Art Car collection, Alexander Calder’s BMW 3.0CSL, is coming to the 2014 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, March 7–9 at Amelia Island, Florida. The Calder car will be featured in the event’s BMW “Batmobile” class.
The BMW Art Car seed was planted in 1975 by French racing driver and auctioneer Hervé Poulain, who thought it would be cool to mix his love of art and racing by competing at Le Mans in a car-turned-work of art by an internationally famous artist. Poulain’s logical choice was his friend, American painter and sculptor Alexander Calder. His canvas would be the 480-horsepower BMW 3.0CSL, a competitive car at that time in the world of endurance racing; the car had already won its class at Le Mans in previous years.
The car was first shown in Paris, at the Louvre, in May 1975, and then taken to Le Mans for the 24-hour race the next month.
The Calder car was driven in the 1975 Le Mans race by French drivers Poulain and Jean Guichet, and American Sam Posey. Qualifying went very well, with Posey putting the car on the class pole and 11th overall. Unfortunately, a broken driveshaft in the ninth hour forced the car’s retirement. Alexander Calder was on hand that year at Le Mans to watch his friend driving his masterpiece. The CSL was one of his last works. Calder passed away the following year. His rolling canvas never raced again, but it had already inspired a magnificent legacy that lives on—the BMW Art Car.
After Poulain commissioned Calder to create the first art car, BMW took over to create the BMW Art Car Collection, which to date includes 17 BMWs.
In addition to the Calder 3.0 CSL, a number of other “Batmobiles” have been invited to this year’s Amelia Island Concours. Among the many BMW 3.0 CSLs that will comprise the class, BMW of North America will be bringing the Sebring 12-Hour winning car, Kevin Ladd is scheduled to bring the Daytona 24-Hour winning 3.0 CSL, longtime BMW CCA member Scott Hughes will display his beautiful #51 CSL which raced at Le Mans, and three-time IndyCar champion Bobby Rahal is bringing his 3.0 CSL street car.
The 2014 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance will be held March 7–9 on the 10th and 18th fairways of The Golf Club of Amelia Island at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. Since 1996 the show's Foundation has donated over $2.2 million to the Community Hospice of Northeast Florida and other deserving charities from Florida's First Coast.—Scott Blazey