Call it a festival, an event, a “temporary metropolis dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance”, but there’s no denying the fact that Burning Man has been an artistic staple in the American consciousness since its first iteration in 1986. And one of the most iconic facets of this phenomenon is the incredibly wild and creative Burning Man cars (art cars and mutant vehicles) that come out of each year’s gathering. 

Unfortunately, due to public health concerns, Burning Man 2020 as we know and love it has been cancelled, with a series of virtual events taking its place. To pay homage to this weird, quirky, and downright incredible event, we’ll be taking a look at some of the most iconic and memorable burning man cars and mutant vehicles that have ever graced Black Rock City. 

1. Airpusher art car (2015)

mutant vehicles

Take Noah’s Ark and mix it with a steam-punk airship, and you’ll get something that looks like this 2015 Airpusher. Looks pretty cozy if you ask me!

2. Lovecraftian mutant (2019)

art cars

Okay, so it’s clearly modeled after an octopus, but it also looks like a fire-breathing nightmare straight out of an H.P. Lovecraft story. Good luck getting around in this one!

3. The Spiked Dragon (year unknown)

mutant vehicles

Image Source: Outside Online

This one’s just plain cool. From the smallest details on the body to the DJ sound system to the fact that someone can literally ride on the neck of this “dragon”, this has to be one of our favorite Burning Man creations yet. 

4. The Glowing Carriage (2019)

Image Source: MotorTrend

Now this one is straight out of a Tim Burton film. While this mutant vehicle is only big enough to whisk a few people across the black rock desert, it makes up for it with its whimsical style. Its a Burning Man cars classic, for sure.

5. The Viking Dragon (2010)

Tiny but mighty, this art car is reminiscent of a metal viking ship. We’ve got to wonder though, just how hot does it get in there?  Whatever the case, it’s a cool rendition of Burning Man cars.

6. Cheshire Cat (2007)

burning man cars

Would you look at the claws on that one! It’d definitely be a strange sight to see this art car cruising toward you in the desert.

7. The Aardvark (2000)

burning man cars

Image Source: Burning Man

Probably the most hokey of Burning Man cars, this adorable aardvark-inspired vehicle is hilarity at its best. I know I’d love a ride in this one. 

Burning Man cars aside, want more cool car history and news? Check out how the Volkswagen Beetle became an American icon, and other stories on the Headlights blog!

Claire Biggerstaff
Claire Biggerstaff is a freelance writer and photographer from Charlotte, NC. Her curiosity leads her to write about a wide variety of topics. On her off days, she enjoys reading Polygon articles, and curling up to a good YouTube playlist.

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    5 Comments

    1. Getting ready for Mad Max, basically.

    2. I appreciated the link to the Burning Man website. I have heard the words, but must admit I am not too familiar with what this is. These art cars are so cool! I particularly like the dragon ones.

    3. All of those vehicles are legal to drive in south Florida!

    4. Get ready for the all new Harley Davidson Aardvark Sportster!! New features for this model include 4-claw drive, gray fur trim, adjustable tail spoiler, and an aggressive Ram Air Snout Intake System®.

    5. Very cool, it would be a lot of fun to build one of these!

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