Collecting MemoriesModels

Jeff Koons BMW Art Car in 1:43 scale

Possibly the hardest kit to find if you can find it at all!

I was fortunate to have gone to the LeMans race in 2010. Audi finished 1-2-3 and vanquished the much faster Peugeots. Although Peugeot had four cars to Audi’s three, the Audis used strategy to vanquish the French team. Both of the factory Corvettes blew up spectacularly too.

jeff koons bmw art car with flat tireThat was also the year that BMW commissioned a new art car, decorated by American artist Jeff Koons. Koons is famous for creating a mammoth balloon dog sculpture which you might have seen photos of. Like the first few BMW art cars, this new M3  competed in the LeMans 24 Hour race. Sadly it did not finish, but ran respectably while it did run. After a flat tire at the end of the Mulsanne Straight (right), the car limped to the pits and was repaired, but retired a short time later. No doubt BMW realized the worth of the car as valuable art and put it away in one piece.

The Jeff Koons BMW Art Car as a model

Like most of the BMW Art Car series, Minichamps created a 1/18th scale model for BMW of the Koons car. BMW controls the distribution of every model car in the Art Car series and distributes them through their dealer network. BMW has mostly authorized only 1/18th scale models to be made. Knowing this, I purchased the 1/18th scale model even though I largely avoid the larger scale for space reasons.

jeff koons bmw art car kit by jps miniatures

If you collect the BMW Art Cars in 1/43 scale, there are but a few choices, all out of production. However, for the Jeff Koons BMW Art Car, JPS Miniatures of France created a painted kit of the BMW M3. Only it comes without decals. The decals were created by an independent French firm and must be purchased separately.

The decals have not been distributed widely for what may be legal reasons. The kit was available from a very few sources in Europe but the decals were ONLY available for sale in Europe. I tend to believe that Mr. Koons did not give permission to produce the decals and therefore would violate copyright laws in the USA. That said, they were produced anyway and I have been fortunate to obtain the kit and the decals off of Ebay. For a small fortune. No, make that a ridiculous fortune.

The JPS kit

The kit contains the painted resin body, painted interior with one-piece roll cage and the usual assortment of parts. JPS makes their kits rather simple to construct and so contain relatively few parts; the only etched parts are stainless steel tow hooks, wing supports and the windshield wiper. The body is an okay molding (certainly not Tameo quality) with pretty good detail. However, the paintwork had a few flaws but will be totally covered in decals in any case. Vac formed windows are fairly clear but are not up to modern standards as we know them.

jeff koons bmw art car interiorThe interior is painted aluminum with a LOT of molded-in detail. Plumbing and wiring on the floor will drive me crazy when painting time comes. It is very fine and will take some care to get it right. There’s a fire extinguisher, brake cooling ducts, fuel filler line and what is probably a rear sway bar adjuster that looks like a traditional shifter, with a defined linkage. The dash looks accurate but contains no gauges molded in or as a decal. The seat has the belts molded in and they run through the back of the seat and wrap on to the back. The base that this all lies in is pretty heavy, mimicking a metal baseplate. This give the whole model a heft rarely found in resin models.

My kit contained a broken steering wheel which will be replaced from my spare parts box. One of the correctly yellow-tinted headlights was also broken, but was cleanly cracked and should go into the model unnoticed. Getting spare parts from JPS MIniatures would prove to be a daunting task anyhow.

The roll cage needs a little tweaking to fit perfectly; however the one-piece design will save much time not having to construct the whole thing from scratch.

The Jeff Koons BMW Art Car kit verdict

I’m glad I found it. I was lucky to attend one of the first BMW Art Car exhibitions in New York City in 1986. My collection of BMW Art Cars in 1/43 contains 4 of the 5 that were on display there. To my knowledge, the Rauschenberg 635 has never been produced in 1/43 by anyone.

Having seen the Jeff Koons BMW Art Car at LeMans forced me to obtain a copy first in 1/18th scale and now in my preferred 1/43rd scale. I will be building the JPS kit as soon as I can and will show the finished model on this site when done.

My 1/18th model will be for sale when the kit build is finished. Bet on it.

More BMW Art Cars

Factory BMW Art Car models in 1/43 Part One here
Factory BMW Art Car models in 1/43 Part Two here.
Other racing art cars here.
More racing art cars here.