Design Rafael Esparza-Prieto and the wrought iron Beetle
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Rafael Esparza-Prieto and the wrought iron Beetle

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Collater.al Contributors
Rafael Esparza-Prieto | Collater.al 5

Last February 2019, as we have already discussed here, was the 70th anniversary of one of the most iconic cars of all time, the Volkswagen Beetle. To pay homage to this car, in addition to the commemorative video released by the German car manufacturer, a work by Rafael Esparza-Prieto, a craftsman specializing in the creation of iron and steel objects, was made. The artist created a limited series of Beetles consisting of a wrought iron bodywork.

Rafael Esparza-Prieto, who grew up working in a workshop in Mexico, comes from a long line of blacksmiths. When he took a second job in a spare parts shop where he was asked by the shop owner if he could build a wrought iron car to use as a sign for the company. The product, once completed, was placed on a rotating platform inside the shop where, later, someone from the Volkswagen factory saw it and asked Rafael Esparza-Prieto if he could build another one. Volkswagen ended up hiring him with the aim of having him build promotional facilities for the 1968 Olympic Games and, later, for the car manufacturer’s dealerships around the world.

The Beetle’s design features 2,600 individual floral-inspired curly designs reminiscent of doodles and was created using only two tools: a hammer and an anvil before being painted white. This particular version was presented at the Casa Linda restaurant in Barajas, Montecito, California, in 1985 and has been used for a long time, acting as an occasional shuttle for the restaurant’s customers to the nearby city of Santa Barbara. Its owner, José Barajas, commissioned his own wrought iron piece in the early 1980s and it was recently sold for $78,400 at an auction held by RM Sotheby’s.
Rafael Esparza-Prieto has officially made several cars for Volkswagen, around 20 of them.

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Written by Collater.al Contributors
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