Ken Done

1989 BMW M3 Group A Race Version

What do BMW Art Cars 7 and 8 have in common? Both were created using the same model — a BMW M3 racing car — and both were adorned with the work of Australian artists. Anyone looking for visual similarities will do so in vain, as these contradictory models are representations of the two main antithetic cultures of the Australian continent.

As with the rest of his artwork, Done was not mean with his use of colors on this Art Car. The bright colors and powerful brush strokes are symbolic of modern Australia with its sunny beaches and semi-tropical landscapes.

All these impressions of life and joy are embodied by BMW Art Car 8. The bodywork is emblazoned with an abstract portrayal of parrots and parrot fish. What do these animals symbolize? Explaining his creation, Done explained his work as follows:

“Both are beautiful and move a fantastic speeds. I wanted to express this with the BMW Art Car.”


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Ken Done | Australia

Ken Done, born in Sydney in 1940, left school at the age of only 14 and commenced his art studies at the National Art School in Sydney. After working for 20 years as an advertising graphic designer in Sydney, New York and London, he quit this profession to devote more time to painting.

Since his first exhibition in 1980, he has rapidly gained a reputation as a leading Australian painter, to complement his established credentials as a top graphic designer. In 1988 he was commissioned to execute the exterior design of the Australian and United Nations pavilions at EXPO.

Highly talented, Done is often engaged on several projects simultaneously. The lively colors and brush strokes of his pictures reflect the typical face of Australia – landscapes, the animal kingdom, beaches and gardens. His works are on display at exhibitions and in museums and private galleries all over the world.

1989 BMW M3 Group A Race Version

  • 4-cylinder inline engine
  • 4 valves per cylinder
  • Double overhead camshafts
  • Displacement: 2,332 cc
  • Power output: 300 bhp
  • Top speed: 281 km/h

Ken Done and the BMW Art Car

After assessing the impressive series of works produced by his illustrious predecessors, Ken Done considered the task of painting a BMW racing car a huge challenge and a “great compliment.”

He compared it to playing Jack Nicklaus at golf or having a car race against Nelson Piquet. During the creative process he was particularly conscious that the Art Car represented a linking together of artistic and technical modes of thought.

“I have painted parrots and parrot fish. Both are beautiful and able to move at fantastic speeds. I wanted my BMW Art Car to express the same qualities.”

— Ken Done

Done had definite ideas from the very first moment as to how to decorate the car. On the one hand it was to express something of the fascination which the swift, high-performance M3 held for him, and on the other it had to be typically Australian.

The vitality and optimism of his home continent were to be as much in evidence as things which he particularly appreciates about Australia. He therefore decided to paint parrots and parrot fish, as he saw a strong affinity between them and the BMW M3. The result is as appealing as it is original: Done has indeed succeeded in representing speed and beauty in his own unmistakably Australian style.

Ken Done’s BMW Art Car originates from the Motorsport division of BMW Australia, formerly run by famous Australian racing driver Frank Gardner. The car took to the road in 1987 with the JPS-BMW Team, carrying Jim Richards to victory in the Australian Group A Driver’s Championship. The M3 only participated in one race in 1988, after which it was withdrawn from competition racing and earmarked for its ultimate destiny as a work of art.