The thing about mutant vehicles is you never know what people are going to come up with, like this telephone: Off ‘Da Hook! Burning Man is an “Off ‘Da Hook” kind of place.
I could go on and on with mutant vehicles. Their sheer numbers and variety speak to the creativity and magic of Burning Man. But the camps, sculptures, temples, painting, costumes, performance art, the Man, and even bicycles also speak to the creativity, so I need to move on. Mainly, up until now, I have focused on vehicles that tend to stand out and draw crowds. Nothing is better at this than El Pulpo Mecanico. There are dozens of other vehicles that also deserve attention that I haven’t covered yet, however. (And I wasn’t around in 2016 to see the latest creations!)
One mutant vehicle I haven’t featured yet, Never Was Haul, is right up there with El Pulpo Mecanico and the Rhino Redemption from my perspective. It’s here today, but there are also dragons and bugs and ships and animals and some really weird stuff. Oh my! Enjoy. (Unless noted otherwise, all of the photos are by Peggy and me.)
I selected this photo of Never Was Haul from my longtime friend Tom Lovering because it is one of his all-time favorite mutant vehicles. I would describe it as a combination of a steam train engine and a Victorian house.
Trains are one of the themes for mutant vehicles. This caboose fits right in.
As does this steam engine. The grill on the front of this steam engine and Never Was Haul is known as a cattle catcher, BTW. I am not sure that the cow is in any better condition after a collision with a train, but the engine is. They also work for moose and buffalo!
Dragons are also a common theme for Burning Man mutant vehicles. (Photograph by our friend Don Green.)
This is one of the more scary dragons that roam the Playa. Most of these fellows breathe fire as an added attraction.
This dragon was ,um, green and horny. His/her dark snout came from breathing fire. It is standing next to an array of solar panels and the Black Rock Desert serves as a backdrop.
This ferocious looking dragon had chains for reins and palm trees for wings. I think it is a creation of the NOLA camp at Burning Man.
Numerous animals wander the Playa. This is a Sparkle Pony. (Sparkle Pony is the name for Burners who show up at Burning Man and expect to be waited upon.) Our friend Leslie Lake thinks that is a great idea and has adopted Sparkle as her Playa Name.
Some of the animals are just plain friendly looking, such as this rabbit.
And this buck toothed dog.
The Cheshire Cat is, of course, noted for its huge grin.
My guess is a giant cow. Her eyes flash out beams at night, giving this friendly beast a more scary persona.
This mechanical horse with its carriage represents the heavy steampunk presence at Burning Man.
I finish off my animals with this humorous Chicken Pox.
Once upon a time, this section of the Black Rock Desert was a huge inland sea. So why shouldn’t there be sailing ships at Burning Man?
And yachts. This boat is named Christina and looks quite gorgeous at night.
As might be expected in an ancient sea there are also numerous creatures of the ocean at Burning Man, such as this crab with its colorful shell.
And an articulated fish.
Many of the fish swimming in the Black Rock Desert feature large teeth, such as this Disco-Fish.
Big fish trying to swallow equally big fish. What puts this mutant vehicle into my weird category is the tongue, however. Note the stirrups so a Burner can hop on for a ride.
I am not sure what this creature is, but I think it belongs in the sea. I’ll go with seahorse.
There are numerous insect mutant vehicles at Burning Man. My favorite is the praying mantis. So I will let it represent the bugs.
Speaking of bugs, here is a VW Bug art car.
And his bigger cousin (much bigger), Walter the VW Van. (Photo by Don Green.)
While I am on vehicles, I’ll include this dream of a hot rodder’s hot rod.
Often, it’s the faces on the mutant vehicles that capture my attention. Pucker up.
This joker has another memorable face.
I think ‘Kilroy was here’ of Kilroy fame may have been the inspiration for this face with its large tongue.
NEXT BLOG: I’ll finally get Sully landed on the Hudson River and off of his plane.
32 thoughts on “Mutant Vehicles IV… The Creativity and Magic of Burning Man”
Pretty amazing… a lot of creativity, work, and even money! –Curt
I didn’t see the creativity in the last one, but maybe I just don’t see art in a car penis lol
True, but it is Burning Man, and I try to include a wee bit of the weirdness, since it reflects a part of the event.
Oh I understand, I couldn’t not say something about it lol
I thought about it… and decided to take it down, since a certain number of kids end up reading my blog. 🙂 Plus Peggy encouraged me. Thanks! –Curt
Yes, I thought it was there but now it’s not.
The creativity is mind-blowing.
And what is truly amazing, Peggy, is that it just goes on and on and on. –Curt
There is some genius at work in these creations sure enough Curt. Has it ever been used as a movie set?
Lots of genius, probably, Andrew. It has become an important center of creativity, particularly for the West Coast, but artists participate from around the US and world. As for a movie set, the Burning Man Organization is very strict about any commercialization of the event. Bart Simpson apparently likes to go, however. 🙂
Do these people ever sell their vehicles? The talent and work put into them is astounding.
I’ve seen one up for sale, G. I don’t know if it is more widespread. Most people seem to bring their vehicles back to Burning Man year after year. –Curt
I know I wouldn’t want to part with one after all that work and creativity went into it!! For one thing – I’d never be able to duplicate it! 🙂
It seems endless! Sparkle Pony seems a bit out of place with all the dragons and insects. Unless she breathes fire. Which would actually be fantastic. 🙂
Right Sue. 🙂 I think Sparkle Pony was a reaction. There was considerable criticism of people showing up, looking beautiful, and not necessarily contributing to the Burning Man concept of participation. I may be wrong here but I think the Sparkle Pony Camp was set up with the intention of waving a merry finger at the critics. The Sparkle Pony folks seem to wear their status with pride. 🙂 I find it amusing. And yes it does seem endless, especially when you are there trying to get a handle on it. –Curt
They all look great in the sun. Hot, I bet … do they all work?
Some of then may have problems, Dave. Lots of the vehicles are built on older cars, trucks and busses. But the people who build them seem to be pretty good mechanics, capable of keeping their vehicles running. –Curt
Do they recycle them year on year, do you think?
Many come back year after year, Dave. Most change their looks, upgrading if you will. It’s fun to watch the evolution since I have ten year’s worth of photos. –Curt
I love them all!
I can’t wait each year, Richard, to see what new mutant vehicles have been created.
About how many mutant vehicles are there every year?
There have to be a few hundred, Richard. I don’t know exact numbers. –Curt
These are all mind-blowingly inventive and amazing! Such a surreal sight I’m trying to imagine what it would feel like seeing them for real! 😀 You give us a real flavour of the event…although I imagine the real thing is even more unreal!
“although I imagine the real thing is even more unreal!” Like a quantum leap, Annika. –Curt
I’d like to take home the chained dragon, please.
Me too. 🙂
Stunning creativity. I like sparkle pony; she appeals to me 🙂
Cute Timi. I might have guessed that. It’s the romantic in you. 🙂