The 5:04 PM Earthquake Car, Burning Man’s First Art Car on Display

1965 - 504 PM

Burning Man Exhibit

The 5:04 PM mutant art car, a back-end crushed 1978 Olds Cutlass Supreme, was created by Michael Michael (aka Danger Ranger) and its fun history begins with the San Francisco Bay Area Loma Prieta earthquake.

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.

The 5:04 PM (aka the Earthquake Car) is now sporting a shiny new paint job and, as it was Burning Man’s first art car at the desert’s festival, is on display at Mutant Rides: Origin of a Species Burning Man art car and costumes exhibit at the National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada. The exhibit opened October 7, 2011 and runs through July 25, 2012. Artist Kevin Evans took a photograph of The 5:04 PM at the 1991 Burning Man which shows its original color and condition after the earthquake.

photos by Eric Baron and Michael Michael

Rusty Blazenhoff
Rusty Blazenhoff