The Art Of The Automobile
It’s not often you meet a car dealer who fancies his red vintage Golf GTI as much as his Bugatti Veyron:
We met up with the collector Arthur Kar in Paris to pick his brain about craftsmanship and cool cars.
|WORDS: ANDERS REDDER NØRGAARD|
PHOTOS: VALENTIN LE CRON
INTERVIEW: ANDERS REDDER NØRGAARD & VICTOR THOFT
Walking through Arthur Kar's L’Art de L’Automobile garage makes you feel like a kid in a candy store. It might be based in Paris, but for anyone with an interest in cars, Arthur's place – filled with vintage collectibles and that distinctive smell of fuel mixed with leather – might as well be heaven.
EVERY CAR IS A PIECE OF ART
Arthur’s love for cars goes way back. Growing up in Beirut, he started working with cars around the tender age of seven after watching his dad work as a garage mechanic. According to his mother, Arthur's first word was "car".
"Some people develop passions during their life, but I was born with this passion for cars," he says.
"I consider every car to be a piece of useable art. There’s no such thing as ugly art, just as there is no such thing as an ugly car. It all comes down to taste, and what I like about cars you might dislike. People don’t always consider cars as art because we use them as an everyday thing, but there’s a human being behind the design, development, and manufacturing of every car. Take a Zagato designed car for instance; how can that not be considered art?"
Arthur started from the bottom and worked his way up. Today he’s one of the most renowned car collectors and dealers in France, but just a few years back he was a worker at the Porsche factory in Paris.
"That’s one of the reasons why I’m really into Porsche – the aesthetics, the way it’s made, just everything about it. I used to change tires, fix the mechanics, wash cars, everything basically," Arthur describes.
"Back then I was happy to wake up every morning knowing that I would be surrounded by incredible machinery and beautiful cars all day. Owning a Porsche was just a dream to me at that time, but the fact that I own one today proves that every car-loving child can dream of achieving that too."
collaboration with Colette
For Arthur, rare cars aren't the only object of interest. Through L’Art de l’Automobile he has made friends and connections all over the world, especially in Paris and Los Angeles, where Arthur trades many of his cars. Last year Arthur and his friend Karim, the highest performing Smart car dealer in Paris, contributed to a collaboration between Smart car and Parisian concept store Colette to mark the latter's eighteenth birthday.
"We made 18 cars for Colette and they sold out in two days. The cars were beautiful, and it was really interesting to work with a store that in my opinion is the number one fashion store in the world. I love Paris, and the Smart car reflects the city. At the same time I love fashion, art, and cars, so this collaboration is something I’m really proud of."
Good cars are all about functionality
At L’Art de l’Automobile, cars diverge on everything from price level to age. As Arthur puts it, the quality of the car doesn't necessarily depend on the year it was built. Good mechanics and quality craftsmanship are essential when it comes to cars.
"Good craftsmanship is timeless. A car from 1970 can be as good as a new one. The most important thing is functionality; even if it’s a sports car you need to feel comfortable in all senses. Things should be there to make the driving nice and comfortable. Look at the Ferraris and Porsches made today – everything is right next to the steering wheel and is so easy to deal with. All you need to do is concentrate on driving, which is quite difficult with some of these powerful cars," Kar explains.
"When I was younger, all I cared about was the look of the car, but not anymore. Of course, an expensive car needs to be beautiful, but first and foremost it should be functional and ride well."
The diversity of his garage is important to Arthur, and he’s not quite sure about the answer when we ask him whether he fancies new or vintage cars the most. Every car has a special place in Arthur's heart – the red painted vintage Golf GTI, an old Fiat 500 and the Ferrari 458 Speciale are just a few of his favourites.
"I like vintage cars because of their timeless design. The handiwork, the sound of the doors opening and the engine starting – all this gives charm to the vintage cars. But I like new cars because you know they’re going to start every morning," he laughs.
From Paris to Los Angeles
Kar does most of his business in Paris, but he sells quite a few in LA, a city that has a unique place in the car dealer’s heart.
"In Los Angeles, I especially enjoy riding a 1980s Ford Bronco or a Porsche Carrera GT. The weather and landscape is just beautiful and there's a passion for cars in LA, which I like. In Paris the most popular car is the small Smart car, and in LA it’s the Mercedes G-Wagon – it’s easy to tell the difference, right?" he says with a smile.
No matter where Arthur finds himself driving, music is always an important part of his ride. Hence, Arthur always has a top quality sound system in his cars.
"I listen to all sorts of music while driving. Florence and the Machine, The Weeknd, Sting, some old Wu-Tang, Travis Scott, Missy Elliot, Prince – it all depends on my mood, but my taste is quite varied. In LA, it’s always hip-hop coming out of my audio system, but in Paris, it could be everything. Kanye's new album The Life of Pablo was just released, and it's very good, so I’m looking forward to hearing that while driving!" he says enthusiastically.