Searching online car auctions, I usually find stuff like engine-swapped vans or practically new 1980s work trucks, but this is perhaps the unique thing that I’ve found on any site. This “Consumer Car” for auction on Cars & Bids is the work of a designer of incredibly abstract vehicles, Joey Ruiter, and it’s technically road legal!
What is a car? Functional art? An appliance? Joey Ruiter is famous for taking all sorts of vehicles and transforming them into machines that look like they come from a distant future. It appears one of his signature traits is making things that are extremely minimalistic. Ruiter recently designed a motorcycle for the newly relaunched Buell Motorcycle Company.
Built in 2016, this box on wheels was on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles until early 2020. In February 2021, Garage Kept Motors, a Michigan dealer, acquired the car from Ruiter. We covered the car back in 2016 and our Jason Torchinsky described the car best:
The fundamental design of the Consumer is about distillation down to the absolute basics of form, with an approach taken that deliberately avoids as many conventions of automotive design as possible.
For example, since most auto designers start their designs with the wheels, Ruiter deliberately ignores the wheels as a design element, hiding them almost entirely under the body.
The body itself is an unadorned, matte-black low trapezoidal volume, sort of reminiscent of sliding a Pink Pearl eraser over a desk and pretending it’s a car when you were bored in school.
The selling dealership posted the car on Cars & Bids, giving us some details we hadn’t seen before.
What car is this work of art based on? According to the listing, the Consumer Car is built on a 1993 Ford Festiva GL chassis and drivetrain. The bodywork is hand-formed steel covered with sugarcane-based Xorel fabric covering the main body.
There are some bright LEDs hidden behind the front cowling’s two-way mirror. The three strips are said to have a 54,000-lumen rating.
Open up the cowling to reveal the Festiva’s 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine. The little engine makes 63 horsepower and 73 lb-ft of torque. At 1,250 pounds, the car weighs about 300 pounds less than the donor car. The dealership thinks that the Consumer Car should be faster than a stock Festiva, which makes me giggle.
You probably wouldn’t want to push it too hard, anyway. Consumer Car lacks a way to get airflow to the radiator. The dealership says that the cooling system works, but there aren’t gauges of any kind to tell you how hot things are getting.
In fact, the interior has almost nothing. Aside from the missing gauges you don’t get an HVAC system, audio or really anything but a place to seat four people.
Still, I love it. If you look at it dead on, it looks almost like a rearview mirror with wheels.
The best part about the whole thing is that the vehicle is road legal, is registered and comes with a clean Michigan title. That said, your mileage may vary registering something like this elsewhere.
The eventual buyer of this piece of art will likely throw it into a climate-controlled collection or a museum. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen car art I’ve wanted to see on the road more than this. I’d love to see it parked in front of a store, covered in snow and road salt.
The Consumer Car currently sits at $9,200 on Cars & Bids with three days to go. I wonder how expensive it’ll get!