Andy Warhol’s ‘Cars’ Series to Appear at Petersen Museum

Appearing for the first time in North America in over 30 years, “Andy Warhol: Cars – Works from the Mercedes-Benz Art Collection” will go on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum beginning July 23, the museum announced.

The groundbreaking exhibition will open to the public on July 23 and will present a rare and exclusive look at the relationship between the “Cars” artwork series and the vehicles it depicts, museum officials said. The display features five of the eight Mercedes-Benz vehicles ultimately depicted in Warhol’s final commission.

Among the assemblage are some of the most iconic and valuable cars in the world, the museum said. A 1937 W 125, on loan from the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Germany, was initially built for Grand Prix racing and features a supercharged eight-cylinder engine producing 637 horsepower, making it one of the most powerful road-racing cars for three decades.

Also making its way from the German museum is the 1970 C 111-II. The experimental Mercedes-Benz used a highly-aerodynamic fiberglass body and tri-rotor Wankel engine (later replaced with a turbo-charged diesel) to reach speeds of 200 mph.

Andy Warhol’s ‘Cars’ Series to Appear at Petersen Museum | THE SHOP
Mercedes-Benz W 125

On loan from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum is a 1954 W 196. A Formula One car piloted by the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss, the W 196 model won two world championships before Mercedes pulled out of competitive racing for three decades. Forty original Warhol works from the “Cars” series, all on loan from the Mercedes-Benz Art Collection, are presented accompanying the vehicles.

Mercedes-Benz originally commissioned the “Cars” series in 1986 to help celebrate its 100th anniversary after seeing Warhol’s silkscreen prints of its 300 SL Coupe. Warhol planned to create 80 pieces of art using 20 different Mercedes models spanning the German automaker’s 100-year history. But only 49 works, 36 screen prints on canvas and 13 drawings, were completed before Warhol’s unexpected passing in 1987 after routine surgery, leaving the project unfinished.

“Andy Warhol was an iconic and influential figure that pioneered Pop art and culture,” said Petersen Automotive Museum Executive Director Terry L. Karges. “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.”

Also on display in an adjacent gallery will be the 1974 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow owned by Warhol, museum representatives said. Warhol bought the Rolls-Royce new and kept it for the rest of his life. Without ever obtaining a driver’s license, Warhol never drove the Silver Shadow, always riding as a passenger and relying on his friends for transportation. His long list of famous chauffeurs includes Mick Jagger, Imelda Marcos and Liza Minnelli.

A.J. Hecht

A.J. Hecht is the managing editor of THE SHOP and host of the In Gear with THE SHOP podcast. Have an idea, a tip, or a question you’d like to see answered? Contact A.J. at

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