Cars as Art

Artist Claudia De Sabe reveals the challenges of inking the world's first tattooed car

A unique Lexus UX has become the world's first tattooed car.

Photo courtesy of Lexus

Earlier this year, tattoo artist Claudia De Sabe inked the world's first tattooed car, a 2020 Lexus UX. The work is a combination of Japanese artistry and new-age craftsmanship.

Instead of using a traditional tattoo gun, De Sabe used a Dremel, which caused indentations in the model's steel skin, similar to what a needle does to a human's skin. It was the Italian native's first time tattooing something other than the human body inn her 15 years of professional experience.

World's first tattooed car

Photo courtesy of Lexus

The design features a sweeping koi carp along the length of the vehicle. Koi are common in Japanese culture as they are believed to represent good fortune and perseverance. Koi can live to the age of 35. In contrast, goldfish traditionally live to be 10 to 15 years old and bass only make it five to 10 years.

Snakes and botanicals also play into the design.

From concept to completion, the project took six months to produce. The actual tattooing took place over five eight-hour days. De Sabe, who has a studio in London, recently divulged more about the project.

Starting with the outset, De Sabe took inspiration from Japanese culture. She has traveled there and studied Japanese tattooing. "My main inspiration for the design of the car was all the beautiful artwork that I've seen in Japan; in the temples, Ukiyo-e prints, all that artistic background," De Sabe said. "That also is very much translated and used in Japanese tattooing."

Lexus – The Making of the World's First Tattooed Car www.youtube.com

When designing a tattoo, the artist has to consider the layers of structure of the human body. The same occurred for De Sabe when working with the UX. "When you tattoo somebody, you're mainly thinking about their body structure and how the muscles and tissues go onto the skeleton," she said. "I saw the car in exactly the same way. When you work on skin, there is a softness to it. Completely different when you're working with a Dremel onto the car body. It is just metal on metal."

Further describing the carving process, De Sabe said:

"I used a Dremel to carve the paint off to reveal the metal of the body of the car as an outline, especially for the waves and the koi, because we liked the idea of scratching the car, but to do something beautiful. On top of that, we used car paint to fill in the koi design and the waves. Most of the design work is based on that, and we just used gold leaf to give a little bit of accents of light, and add a 3-D element to it, across the car."

In a traditional year, this vehicle would likely make its way to auto shows across the world. Stay tuned to see where it pops up on display.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The 2021 Acura RDX PMC Edition features a thermal orange paint job that it shares with the Acura NSX.

Photo courtesy of Acura
Acura will make a PMC Edition of its best-selling RDX for the 2021 model year. The move comes following successful PMC Edition iterations of the TLX and MDX and forecasts a design change is in the RDX's future.

Named after Acura's Performance Manufacturing Center (PMC) in Ohio, the 2021 Acura RDX PMC Edition will be hand-crafted alongside the Acura NSX by master technicians. Just 360 of the range-topping RDX PMC Edition models will be made and carry a sticker price in the low $50,000s. Exact pricing will be announced in the coming weeks.

2021 Acura RDX PMC Edition

Photo courtesy of Acura

Acura has given each of the North American market-exclusive models a Thermal Orange Pearl paint job - a color shared with the NSX.

It builds on the top-of-the-line RDX, which includes the RDX Advance Package and RDX A-Spec styling. The model gets exclusive black 20-inch alloy wheels, a body color grille surround, black chrome exhaust finishers, and a gloss black roof, side mirrors, and door handles. All-wheel drive is standard.

Acura has pushed the orange color to the cabin where it appears as color-matched orange stitching for the seats, center console, door panels, steering wheel, and floor mats. The RDX PMC edition features a 10.5-inch color head-up display, 16-way power Sport Seats trimmed in Ebony Milano leather and Ultrasuede, heated steering wheel, and heated outboard rear seats.

Like the NSX, each RDX PMC Edition will be built and handled with care. It starts as a body-in-white shell that arrives at PMC to be finished in its orange paint via a robotic paint system. Multiple base coats enhance the paint's intensity. Next ,a mid-coat of gold and orange mica is applied giving off a pearlescent effect in the sunlight. Finally, four layers of clearcoat are applied to increase the paint's luster and protect the finish. The total time in paint, including curing, is five days.

2021 Acura RDX PMC Edition www.youtube.com

Post-paint, PMC master technicians begin hand-assembling the two-row SUV starting with the installation of the drivetrains and chassis components, wiring harnesses, and electronics. Then, the wheels and tires are added. The final step in the process is to fit the vehicle with its unique interior including an individually numbered serial plate affixed to the RDX's center console.

Following assembly, the RDX PMC Edition undergoes an identical quality control process as NSX, which includes a full electronic systems line-end test, expert wheel alignment, dyno run, water-leak test and final paint examination. Before exiting PMC, each vehicle is wrapped in a protective film and loaded onto an enclosed, single-car carrier for transport to an Acura dealer.

Acura has introduced a PMC Edition of the TLX and MDX as they have entered the final year of their design phase. Could a refreshed RDX be on the horizon for 2022? All signs point to yes.

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The 2021 Ford F-150 will come in a hybrid variant

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

If Ford is making anything clear these days, it’s that the future all-electric F-150 won’t just just a mundane street car. The future model will be capable of achieving the same feats as the rest of the company’s family of full-size pickup trucks, if not with more gusto than its relatives.

Ford has confirmed that the battery-electric (BEV) F-150 will be on sale in just a few years. To get to that point, there’s a lot of work that isn’t just going into product development, but also into facilities development. Demand for the F-150 BEV is expected to be high and Ford’s Rouge Complex can’t absorb it as the plant stands now.

Ford Rouge Complex The Ford plant in Dearborn will be the home of the F-150 electric truck.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The company will invest $700 million in the Dearborn, Michigan plant to include a new high-tech manufacturing home for the model. The investment will add 300 jobs. This $700 million is on top of the $1.45 billion that Ford is spending to equip its Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan to produce the Ranger and Bronco.

"We are proud to once again build and innovate for the future here at the Rouge with the debut of our all-new F-150 and the construction of a modern new manufacturing center to build the first-ever all-electric F-150," said Bill Ford, executive chairman, Ford Motor Company. "This year's COVID-19 crisis made it clear why it is so important for companies like Ford to help keep our U.S. manufacturing base strong and help our country get back to work."

The all-electric Ford F-150 is expected to come to market in mid-2022. The redesigned 2021 F-150 will come to market later this year and include a new hybrid powertrain option dubbed the F-150 PowerBoost.

Recently, the company captured video of the F-1500 BEV testing in the wild.

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