This Annual Houston Parade Puts a Spin on Traditional Car Shows

It’s not just any type of car show.

By Joy DiazApril 8, 2016 10:53 am|

Every car show has certain vehicles that grab your attention and tickle your imagination. Others aren’t quite so subtle, they seem to scream for attention. These cars are not necessarily the fastest, the most sleek or the most modern either. At times they seem to be quite the opposite.

But the ones showing up Saturday are show cars nonetheless. It’s time for the 29th annual Houston Art Car Parade.

Artist Harrod Blank is not just a fan, but an owner of an art car or two. His favorite creation? The camera van. Blank says he covered a 1972 white Bell telephone truck with 2705 cameras. At one time he had 10 Canon EOS film cameras wired in to take pictures.

“It was the product of a dream in which I drove around a car covered with cameras,” Blank says. “I was able to take pictures of people’s awe and bewilderment.”

Blank says Google was interested in the car, but they ended up making their own. He’s also sold a car to Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Blank says his creations are one part rebellion and one part art.

“If you do anything to your car, you’re rebelling,” he says. “A lot of people want to be anonymous so they don’t do anything to their car. [As] soon as you put a bumper sticker on your car, you’re saying something about yourself. People who do art cars are taking that bumper sticker and going all the way with it and making something completely different.”

There are many ways to make an art car. There’s adhering to the lines of the original car. There’s also what Blank does: making a “mutant,” or completely transforming the car.

“I’m really interested in doing a car that would be conceptual in which you change completely the lines of the car and make it into something you can’t even recognize,” Blank says.

One of the more famous art cars of the era was Janis Joplin's decorated Porsche. It caused quit a stir.