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Classic Wrecks: The Rusted Car as Art

Aug 7, 2012

by AlexRappoport

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(Music by Ben von Wildenhaus)

John Findra took the top down on his 2007 black Corvette at my request. We were starting our day with a trip across Hardeeville, South Carolina, to visit an auto body shop that inspires his artwork, 1:24 models of abandoned junker cars. On the drive, John told me that his love affair with automobiles goes back to childhood memories of the 1950s. It was the era of tailfins, chrome and custom color combinations, marketed in print and TV to the first car culture generation. John recalls cutting pictures of cars out of magazines and playing with them on the floor of his family’s New Jersey home. He keeps his love of the machines from those days alive by building them in replica. By his account, he has assembled thousands of models in his lifetime since completing his first at age seven. These days, much of his business comes from customers seeking replicas of their favorite old cars.

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3 Featured Comments

  • chickfamilyink

    Shane Chick from chickfamilyink said 4 years ago Featured

    Decay is so interesting and such a brilliant commentary on our own decline.

  • tstarnes55

    Toni Starnes from MostlyMinis said 4 years ago Featured

    I LOVE the aged glory of these mini vehicles! I'm a 35 year dollhouse miniaturist and I started out doing everything PERFECT and all shiny and new. Now I too, in my maturity, am drawn to creating "shabby chic" furniture, all scratched with sagging cushions a peeling paint! I understand your place in this journey of creativity! Wonderfully executed, artistic and beautiful! You can just feel the passage of time in each piece!

  • ArtyDidact

    Sharon Parker from ArtyDidact said 4 years ago Featured

    Oh, what fun. Old rusty cars have such character. Imagine the stories they would tell if they could talk. How clever to make reproductions of them, rust and all!

70 comments

  • chickfamilyink

    Shane Chick from chickfamilyink said 4 years ago Featured

    Decay is so interesting and such a brilliant commentary on our own decline.

  • Waterrose

    Rose Waterrose from Waterrose said 4 years ago

    Forwarding to my husband....he'll love this post!

  • OuterKnits

    OuterKnits from OuterKnits said 4 years ago

    Awesome!

  • LivingVintage

    LivingVintage from LivingVintage said 4 years ago

    How great is that!

  • StitchNerd

    StitchNerd from StitchNerd said 4 years ago

    Wow, so talented! Love the tiny details.

  • skybluemaine

    skybluemaine from MySkyBlueMaine said 4 years ago

    Impermanence is so frustrating!!! But who wants to stand in the same spot for 80 years?? Love the theme, the cars, the colors, the rust..... Annie skybluemaine

  • volkerwandering

    Jess from volkerwandering said 4 years ago

    Awesome video!

  • limestone

    Rocket Ship said 4 years ago

    I love this video and shop so much! I love the idea of the perfection of nature and how it always reclaims fabricated objects. Excellent work!

  • MegansMenagerie

    Megan from MegansMenagerie said 4 years ago

    Love this :)

  • ItsAllTreasure

    ItsAllTreasure from ItsAllTreasure said 4 years ago

    Love all your rusty old bits, my dearest.

  • ADifferentPlace

    Rebecca Robins from ADifferentPlace said 4 years ago

    OOO YEAH!!!!! This stuff is Right Up my ALLEY!!!!! Love it!!! I love the rust, the mopo, all of it!!! Thank you so much for the great article. Will be a fan of this shop!!!

  • jgart

    Jerry Gonzalez from jgart said 4 years ago

    This is great!

  • TheSewingGin

    TheSewingGin from TheSewingGin said 4 years ago

    My husband and son will love this.

  • KMalinka

    Natalia from KMalinkaVintage said 4 years ago

    Great video!

  • ClaudiaLord

    Claudia Lord from ClaudiaLord said 4 years ago

    Love these!!

  • tstarnes55

    Toni Starnes from MostlyMinis said 4 years ago Featured

    I LOVE the aged glory of these mini vehicles! I'm a 35 year dollhouse miniaturist and I started out doing everything PERFECT and all shiny and new. Now I too, in my maturity, am drawn to creating "shabby chic" furniture, all scratched with sagging cushions a peeling paint! I understand your place in this journey of creativity! Wonderfully executed, artistic and beautiful! You can just feel the passage of time in each piece!

  • annalissemorrow

    Annalisse Morrow from MisSMasH2012 said 4 years ago

    Fantastic. Just love this! My theory now is...as we grow older and mature we can strive for imperfection perfectionately (new word), we can see the beauty, history and wisdom in the wear and tear of life and nature...thank you for sharing. :)

  • theshack

    Alex Trumble from theshack said 4 years ago

    Great video and awesome model building.

  • TreadleLady

    Donna Kohler from TreadleLady said 4 years ago

    Memory lane! Makes me wonder what ever happened to my first old big fins Chevy. Shabby chic is comfy and I think that is one of the things that appeals to so many people. Loved watching the techniques in the video.

  • woodguy32

    woodguy32 from woodguy32 said 4 years ago

    Awesome John, Always loved your work.. wood

  • VintageRenude

    Pam from VintageRenude said 4 years ago

    These are so cool! Thanks for a glimpse into your artwork! i would love to have one of my old truck I used to own. Hmm..May have to dig up some pics.

  • PattiTrostle

    Patti Trostle from PattiTrostle said 4 years ago

    Well that's a new idea! I like them!!

  • MorfineDoll

    Marta Lalova from MorfineDoll said 4 years ago

    I remember us passing through a small town where I saw how this lady had turned a really old car (no restoration possible) into a giant flower pot and it was awesome. I personally like classic cars restored to look their best but this man...I love his perspective, ideas and fantasy. Awesome post :)

  • FranceGallery

    France Gallery from FranceGallery said 4 years ago

    Really interesting and fun work!

  • LeatherheadOriginals

    LeatherheadOriginals from LeatherheadOriginals said 4 years ago

    I hearted this guy a couple years ago! Getting the "decayed" look right is a challenge. I built plastic model cars as a teen, and tried getting them perfect! Did some "customizing" too LOL!

  • HoneyThistle

    Wei from HoneyThistle said 4 years ago

    These models are gorgeous! I really like this fun take on car models

  • kathyjohnson3

    Kathy Johnson from kathyjohnson3 said 4 years ago

    I love old cars! Thanks for the post!

  • lovelyfeverboutique

    Jessica from LovelyFever said 4 years ago

    I was really amazed at the craftsmanship of the rusty old car models and his impeccable attention to detail. I will be sure to keep my eye on this shop as my boyfriend is a huge classic car fan :) Thanks for sharing!

  • TheBerryPress

    Wendy Hogue Berry from TheBerryPress said 4 years ago

    I love these. I have three sons and had to show them. I believe they used the term, "pretty neat". I think so too.

  • kevinatkinson

    Kevin Atkinson from AtkinsonImages said 4 years ago

    I love old rusty cars too. http://www.etsy.com/shop/AtkinsonImages?section_id=11649916

  • ArtyDidact

    Sharon Parker from ArtyDidact said 4 years ago Featured

    Oh, what fun. Old rusty cars have such character. Imagine the stories they would tell if they could talk. How clever to make reproductions of them, rust and all!

  • ABlindCat

    ABlindCat from ABlindCat said 4 years ago

    Models or real, they are neat. I don't know why, but I've liked them. I even have a few I've taken pictures of. Maybe it's just the thought of restoring them that is appealing. Anyhow, what a cool thing.

  • Iammie

    iammie from iammie said 4 years ago

    Love this!

  • WingedWorld

    Vickie Moore from WingedWorld said 4 years ago

    This is such a unique idea to make models of rusted cars, rather than pristine condition originals.

  • peshka

    Peshka from Peshka said 4 years ago

    this is great !!!

  • dizhasneatstuff

    deb fearon from dizhasneatstuff said 4 years ago

    Wabi sabi model cars! I've always been drawn to neglected, rusting cars. Since moving to New Mexico, abandoned vehicles have taken on a whole new aesthetic. i actually purchased a 1950's international truck at a local tag sale to be used as a garden ornament . It had been used as a rifle target and it's perfect.

  • ChewedUpPencils

    Cassandra from ChewedUpPencils said 4 years ago

    What I like about these is that they are so believable. I thought it was a photo of a real car when I first glanced without reading. Amazing work.

  • Meandtheboy

    Tanya and Val from Meandtheboy said 4 years ago

    I really like this!

  • furniply

    Ingus Jākobsons from Furniply said 4 years ago

    Amazing artwork!

  • thenosuchdisco

    Dave from thenosuchdisco said 4 years ago

    very very cool!!! I think someone already summed it up quite well, decay is so interesting! it really is! reminds me of trips to the scrap yard with my dad when i was younger! great work! Dave.

  • ErikaPrice

    Erika from ErikaPrice said 4 years ago

    Wow John - your models are absolutely fantastic, and the detail is amazing - awesome work!

  • mattyhandmadecrafts

    Matejka Max from NattyMatty said 4 years ago

    Superb!

  • xZOUix

    Zoui from XZOUIX said 4 years ago

    most beautiful wrecks :::-) i found these wrecked cars on etsy just a few weeks ago. love it! :)

  • AlisaDesign

    Alisa from AlisaDesign said 4 years ago

    Cool!

  • MissHildebrandt

    Miss Hildebrandt from MissHildebrandt said 4 years ago

    Ah, the pale blue El Camino, my FIRST car! Great article as well. The miniature wrecks says a lot.

  • GardenDaisies

    Kate from GardenDaisies said 4 years ago

    My husband found your shop awhile back and we fell in love with your models. They depict some of the cars we have actually salvaged (people threatening to crush them on craigslist, etc...) and are sitting in our yard. We have a lot of love for rust and patina on the old cars - it gives them character and they are beautiful in their old age. And if you are lucky, some of the "Ran When Parked" beauties, actually start right up! Very happy to know you are in SC. If you are ever in the upstate, head over our way :)

  • Ridgevales

    Lindsay from SweetThreesBoutique said 4 years ago

    I love old cars! Its so interesting how they are so full of life and each have their own story..

  • QuirkMuseum

    Michael Quirk from QuirkMuseum said 4 years ago

    Great stuff. They don't make wrecks like this anymore. Keep up the good work.

  • erbephoto

    Jarrod Erbe from erbephoto said 4 years ago

    These are great!

  • stalecandy

    stalecandy from stalecandy said 4 years ago

    Amazing work...I'm in awe!

  • bogARTstudiogallery

    Claudia Bogart from bogARTstudiogallery said 4 years ago

    WOW!!! Your idea and the execusion of it, and the end result, really blew up my mind. it's so AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Claudia Maritza.

  • montanagirl

    Carmen from MontanaGirl said 4 years ago

    These are terrific!

  • anotherghostquilts

    Nancy from anotherghostquilts said 4 years ago

    Fabulous.

  • LittleWrenPottery

    Victoria Baker from LittleWrenPottery said 4 years ago

    I love the character old cars have, theres something so stylish about them!

  • breadandroses2

    breadandroses2 from breadandroses2 said 4 years ago

    Right up my alley. Love this.

  • drawspots

    Pablo from drawspots said 4 years ago

    Amazing cars!

  • deltamoonsoap

    Carla from deltamoonsoap said 4 years ago

    That's JUST awesome! I loved that! What a cool thing to do!

  • KCStarlight

    KCStarlight said 4 years ago

    Fabulous! Reminds me of the cars I built as a kid. In fact, I still have my original kit of a '32 Chev roadster, I thought to sell it, but now I know just what I want to do with it!

  • oldtimethreads

    Shannon from CanterLily said 4 years ago

    Very cool! I have to show this to my brothers!

  • LunasAttic

    Amanda from LunasAttic said 4 years ago

    Just awesome!!

  • AguarelasClassicos

    Gilberto Gaspar from ClassicCarWatercolor said 4 years ago

    I love Classic cars ! that's why I paint them and I think I must try the rusty ones too ! Great Work!

  • JeremyHolmesArt

    Jeremy Holmes from JeremyHolmesArt said 4 years ago

    Great idea. Rust is beautiful

  • CoreandMantle

    Alayna from CoreandMantle said 4 years ago

    Love it! Used to spend hours staring at a rusted out beetle full of dead leaves in the yard of a hippie commune when I lived in the panhandle of FL...

  • mysticbag

    simge aydın from MysticWeb said 4 years ago

    Wow, so talented.Rust is beautiful...

  • SteveJaviel

    Steve Javiel from SteveJaviel said 4 years ago

    awesome cars I'm inspired by decay too its so beautiful. Great video and great hearing you speak about your work

  • cloud9designstudio

    cloud9designstudio from cloud9designstudio said 4 years ago

    Wow! So cool! I have some photographs of vintage rusted cars in my shop. They are so beautiful and have a unique story to tell. ;)

  • crizZy

    christine hedberg said 4 years ago

    this guy is soo cool and talented!! love it!

  • dendraw

    dendraw said 1 year ago

    I'm in my 50's and after a motorcycle accident which left me with pins in my hip...I TOO feel like those old cars! Don't give up on us John! We DO have stories to tell! ha ha You're work is amazing and inspiring to a beginner in this field. Thank you and Cheers!

  • rodsanewman

    Ron Mitchell from dontthrowthataway said 1 year ago

    Totally awesome! I made car models as a teen. Then life happened and haven't done any since...your models take me back to a simpler time. Perhaps you would consider doing custom work. I would like a '73 stock camaro. In green gold poly with wrap around trunk spoiler and distressed with a little rust, cream interior and crager mags.with 60's front and rear. Is that possible and how much would it cost me? Ron

  • tameraevans1

    Tamera Evans said 1 year ago

    I am so pleased with your work! Not only did you do a great job but it also touched our hearts bc this model is something that will be sentimental for the rest of our lives and as it is passed down!

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