The story behind 5:04 PM, the art car made by the Loma Prieta earthquake

Twenty-eight years ago today, an art car was born in an earthquake. 

Its owner, Burning Man founder Michael Mikel (aka "Danger Ranger"), shares the story:

On October 17, 1989 at 5:04 PM, the Loma Prieta earthquake struck the San Francisco Bay Area and a brick wall collapsed on the rear half of an Olds Cutlass parked by Clayton and Page streets. Michael Michael saw it there and the creative wheels began to turn. “I bet that will still run”, he mused, and he placed a note on the car offering to buy it.

Within a few days, the car had changed hands, and with the addition of a new paint job and a license plate bearing the exact time of the earthquake, it became a conceptional art piece and a testament to the powerful forces of nature…

In 1991, 5:04 was the first “art car” to make an appearance at Burning Man, beginning a trend that has grown to epic proportions.

This legendary car made an illustrated appearance in John Law's 2013 book, Tales of the San Francisco Cacophony Society:

recent photo by Michael Mikel, 1991 photo and art by Kevin Evans

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