Vintage Photos: Wild Op Art “Auto Art” Cars Shot In 1966 By A Twelve-Year Old Make Their First Appearance

David Buckley was twelve in the fall of 1966 when he shot these three Chrysler and Plymouth “Car Art” cars with his new cheap plastic 35mm camera in a mall in Chicago. He recently sent me these shots and some background information on these period pieces. There are no other color photos of these cars on the web. Here’s David’s text:

This is a follow-up to Kevin Martin’s CC post from 2012: The “Auto Art” that Sherwood “Woody” Wallace had Chicago artist Tom Strobel complete for Mel Wolff’s Gage Chrysler Plymouth (Gage Park neighborhood, southwest side of Chicago) in 1966 was done for promotional purposes. These hand painted cars had an optic art vibe.

There were five original “Auto Art” cars, 1967 models: a Chrysler 300, Chrysler Newport, Chrysler Imperial, Plymouth Satellite/Belvedere GTX, and Plymouth Barracuda. Three of the cars are in these four pictures. 1967 was the first year for the GTX, which was a midsize muscle car developed to compete with the Pontiac GTO (The Dodge Coronet R/T was a sister car to the GTX). In 1967, almost 13,000 GTXs were produced, most with a 440ci big block with 375hp. The 426 Hemi was the only other option for the GTX that year (125 built).

UNITED STATES – DECEMBER 02: 1966 8th Annual International Motorama – Great Western Exhibit Center. Tom Strobel is the artist that hand-painted a new 1967 Plymouth Barracuda fastback Gage Chrysler-Plymouth in Chicago and an example of AutoArt, originated by Mel Wolff. (Photo by Gerry Stiles/The Enthusiast Network via Getty Images/Getty Images)


There’s a black & white Getty Image of Tom Strobel detailing the Barracuda, certainly an influencer of the 1969 Plymouth Pop Prints, with the floral vinyl top that matched the interior.  Tom’s “Auto Art” was just a small part of his impressive artistic career. (See

Sherwood Lee Wallace hired Strobel to create these cars for his client, Chrysler Plymouth dealer Mel Wolf, seen standing here in front of four of them.

Tom Strobel’s auto art designs were even sold on Meyercord decal kits for VWs and pony cars.


These four pictures of the “Auto Art” were taken by me in October or November 1966. I turned twelve in Sept. 1966. I bought a plastic 35mm camera (with manual film advance) from Montgomery Ward with birthday money.


Aside from taking fall color pictures in the nearby Dan Ryan Woods, I would look to take pictures of interesting images.

“Auto Art” at that time was displayed at the Evergreen Plaza, in Evergreen Park, IL. Evergreen Park is a mature community surrounded by the southwest side of Chicago on three sides. Originally built in 1952 as a strip center, the Plaza was expanded in the early 1960’s and enclosed in 1966, one of the first indoor malls in the US. Anchor stores included Walgreens, Jewel, S.S. Kresge, Montgomery Ward (originally “The Fair”), and Carson Pirie Scott. The mall closed in 2013, was demolished, & redeveloped back in to a strip center. I remember a month before the Chrysler “Auto Art” cars were displayed at the Plaza, there were 1967 Fords there, including the refreshed and larger Mustang.

There’s no proof, but it seems quite likely that these Auto Art cars inspired Chrysler’s Mod Tops in 1969.


Related CC reading:

Pop Print/Mod Top Genesis?

The Mod Top: Introducing The Car You Wear