It was Andy Warhol’s final commission: In 1986, the German car company Mercedes-Benz got wind of the Pop artist’s silkscreens of its 300 SL Coupe—and it liked what it saw. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of its founding, it then asked Warhol to create a series dedicated to different models from throughout the car-maker’s history.
In the end, only 49 of a proposed series of 80 Pop car pictures were made before Warhol’s 1987 death, encompassing 36 screenprints on canvas and 13 drawings. Now, fans have a chance to see this series for the first time in three decades at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, where—in a flourish that probably only the Petersen could pull off—they are paired with the actual cars that inspired them.
“Andy Warhol: Cars” is a rare event, borrowing the late Warhol series from the Mercedes-Benz collection. As for the vehicles in the show, they are described as “some of the most iconic and valuable cars in the world,” and include the 1937 W 125 and the 1970 C 111 II (both of these also on loan from the Benz Museum).
The exhibition is that rare event that may unite aficionados of art and gear-heads (and thus may be a perfect date night for a very specific kind of couple). As an extra, non-Mercedes-based treat, the show also features Warhol’s personal ride: a 1974 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow. It was something of a trophy for Warhol, given that he himself couldn’t drive.
Take a look at some photos from “Andy Warhol: Cars,” below.