Artistic Photos of Vehicles in Action

For some, the world of horse powers, refined engine designs and the smell of gasoline is the only world worth inhabiting. However, there’s a lot of photographic evidence to support the claim. These are photos of roaring V-8’s and thundering exhaust pipes - photos of vehicles in action!

Still Life in the Bonneville Salt Flats


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We have to warn you, though, that there might be a bit of a predominance regarding the vintage aesthetics, but acknowledging the appreciation the old irons have been receiving for decades, it might as well not be a flaw at all. Furthermore, we’ll try to avoid the video game-ish vibe most of the present day car photographers are oddly striving to acquire. To start off, we’re going with a photo by Simon Davidson, the name you’re going to see pretty often in the following paragraphs. The Australian photographer simply has a natural knack for turning vehicles into objects that fit the scene like a basket of apples fits a painting by Cezanne. Perfectly, that is.

Almost a Lift Off


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Probably the oldest photo in our selection, this one proves how, in fact, thrilling a ride can be in one of those supposedly goofy-looking cars. The specific model is EPE 97, and the man behind the wheels is John Cobb. The peculiar curvature of the track was a completely normal thing during those days (despite roundly increasing the potential risks) whilst the car is an icon on its own right. To win the Brooklands Circuit of 1937, Cobbs used the Napier-Railton automobile, a real four-wheel powerhouse that might as well have served as an inspiration for the early Batmobile concept. The artistic quality hides in the way the out-of-focus background highlights the fine line of the vehicle, emphasizing the dynamics of the ride. It is a great treat for those who look upon the racing heritage like a fine wine.

Good Vibrations


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Okay, we’ll have to take back whatever we said about the modern photographers for Laurent Nivalle has recreated 24 Le Mans vibe like a boss. His 2010 photoshoot of the Le Mans Classic (a biennial vintage sports event with a reenactment of the classic Le Mans aesthetic) emphasizes the high class and masculine aspects of racing, proving that there’s something far more sophisticated than a simple bass blasting from an overturned four wheel tank that looks suspiciously like it will transform into the Megatron at some point. It’s a gentleman’s sport, where manners, courage, companionship and good taste do matter!



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Now this is something more of a social phenomenon than just a run of the mill shot of a vintage car. The particular V8 Detroit bruiser has found its way into the rural regions of Sweden, where, as it turns out, the ownership of such oldie Americana is a part of a bigger subcultural peculiarity. Raggare is the name of the thing. The term is used to describe a sort of Scandinavian Greaser phenomena, a lifestyle which involves a lot of rockabilly, cheap six packs, the respective hairstyles (think of John Travolta during his Grease days) and a bit tamer, nostalgy-driven hooning. What’s even more surprising is the fact that you might catch these pretty often. Turns out, there are more restored vintage American cars in Sweden than there are in the US! 5000 examples of Pontiacs and Plymouth Road Runners are sent over the Atlantic every year to be received by the no-nonsense Swedish enthusiasts.

Legitimate Relationships


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And now back to Simon Davidson and the Bonneville Salt Flats. If there’s any human being capable of initiating the most uninterested of minds to give the world of automobiles a shot, then it’s got to be the Australian-born photographer. Though an undeniable master of photography in all of its incarnations, Simon hits the nail every time it comes to capturing the personality of cars and the staff involved in their maintenance. Through his series of the Bonneville Salt Flat racing events, the photographer has managed to represent the crafty, the complex and the retro-futuristic beauty of both four and two-wheeled vehicles rushing through the dusty and enormous nowhere of the Utah salt pan. The textures and the colors of these straight-out-from-a-50’s-sci-fi-flick mechanical horses are simply mesmerizing.

The Space Bolt


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Nope, despite the deceiving entourage and the vintage leanings, this is not a shot from a glamoured-up race taking place in 1977. Instead, it’s another of the increasingly popular reenactment type of gathering, this time commemorating the legendary Silverstone circuit, a three-day classic motor racing festival that offers both off-track entertainments as well as 10 000 mechanized units of vintage awe to touch and see. Taken by the British photographer Peter Aylward during the Silverstone Classic 2013, the photo represents every little chap’s dream car archetype of a spaced-out speed bolt where every sticker is right where it should be, splitting the wind to wipe away the paint of the finish line. Controlling the engine of this mistress demands an experienced gentleman most of us are striving to become one day.

Purple Haze


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Surprise, surprise, another one by Simon Davidson, only this time skipping the obligatory vintage aesthetic. It’s pretty much a straightforward burnout session with the additional value of the chromatic burnout fumes. An ecstatic still shot, it truly creates a sense of a vehicle ascending to a synthetic heaven for all motor-driven carriages. It also proves Davidson’s grasp for understanding the distinction and uniqueness of the environment he’s shooting within. Just like the Bonneville Salt Lake series, there’s a deep-seated understanding of the particular culture, its practitioners, and disciples as well as the ever-present respect for the automobile as a means of identity and self-expression.

The Blindfolded Porsche


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To give Davidson’s name a well-deserved break, this one’s mainly here out of a sheer respect for the man behind the wheel, the former Formula One driver and a racing car pilot, the legendary Porsche loyalist Hans Herrmann. The man still looks great in drivers' gear despite being a reputable 85-year old senior citizen with over 80 overall and class victories behind his belt. The picture itself is somewhat uplifting and quirky, evoking associations with the regular “sped-up” racing of the fifties cinema with an inconsistently moving actor against an obvious screen projection of the track. However, this blindfolded oddity (Porsche Type 550 Spyder) is a snap from a legitimate competition which took place in 1956 with the 29-year-old Herrman rocking a red helmet like no other. As for the taped headlights, the official version claims that it’s a widely used method to prevent the broken glass from falling on the track and damaging the other contestants’ vehicles. Makes perfect sense if you think about it.

Waiting for the Man


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And again, we find ourselves in the vast, boiling acres of Bonneville's salt pan, only this time from the fresh perspective of the cinematographer/photographer Jeremy Pollard. The three cars are positioned right under the ruthless sun in order to patiently wait for their turn to melt the sand underneath the wheels into a solid glass. Even the monochromatic dressing cannot hide the fact that the superstructures of the Dodge Charger Daytona and both Plymouth Road Runner Superbirds most likely are turned into fully-functioning frying pans. A salute to the endurance of the steel wheels and their masters.

Captain Australia


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By now, it’s obvious that we’re once again dealing with the distinct photo signature of Simon Davidson. What might not be that obvious is the fact that the setting is a couple of thousand miles apart from the exhausted salt lake of Utah. These are the salt flats of the Lake Gairdner in Australia, and the superhero-like figure on the bike-like structure is Brett De Stoop (an ironic surname for sure considering the unstoppable speed of 232.108 mph he managed to reach in 2010). The futuristic machine De Stoop employs for his noble goal of reaching gut-wrenching speeds is a result of the man’s DIY ingenuity and a good chunk of spare parts. Even more, the man doesn’t even possess a road registered bike! Anyhow, it’s clear that the engine of Suzuki GT750 has only brought the guy a bit closer to the stars.

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