70-Foot Dragon Art Car Breathes Fire, Is Made from Found Objects

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All Photos: Alex Davies

When the crafts and do-it-yourself bonanza Maker Faire rolled through New York City, most of the products on display were pretty small scale. But the hand-painted helmets and homemade jewelry were dwarfed by Gon KiRin: the fire-breathing dragon art car that seats 25.

The work of Ryan C. Doyle, his two assistants named Ryan, and Hong Kong artist Teddy Lo, the dragon is made of steel and found objects. The group collected metal, shredded tires, and several sofas from fellow artists, junkyards and the street. They added a 250 gallon propane tank to provide Gon KiRin’s fire-breathing abilities.

The dragon’s head and tail are hydraulic operated. Doyle wanted his creature to defy the “red velvet rope factor” that keeps spectators at arms’ length from works of art. Gon KiRin has seating in the tail section, under the stomach, and in the mouth. The public is encouraged to swing its tail back and forth, and to push the big red button that makes flames shoot from its mouth.

The project started in the Bay Area, but Doyle thought it more appropriate to finish the building process in Detroit. So he moved to the Motor City, bought a house, and settled in. And he was right: what better place to create a remarkably imaginative car than the home of the American auto industry?

This Maker Faire video explains the whole process:

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