Torquey tattoos: Our five favourite car tattoos and five worst fails of all time

Image of Neil Thomason
Author: | Updated: 03 Oct 2019 12:16

Many, many years ago, in 2011, long before I got into the wonderful world of automotive writing, I was ever-so-briefly a freelance magazine journalist in the hermetic tattoo industry.

It was while looking at some of my old work that I thought: “I wonder if there are any good car tattoos out there.” This left me going down the dark inky rabbit hole you see below. Here’s a few of the best and worst automotive tattoos I’ve seen over the years:

Five faves:

Classic and colourful Chevy pick-up truck

Cheverolet pick-up truck tattoo

With some awesome use of colours to create the illusion of chrome, a hazy background effect to create movement in the still image, and one of the most badass pick-up trucks ever made, this tattoo has a lot going for it.

Artsy and minimalist Golf GTI

Volkswagen Golf GTI Trash Polka tattoo

Minimalist in the Trash Polka style of tattooing, this tattoo of a Golf GTI shows its not always a pretty and artsy colourful tattoo that makes one great but the concept of it too.

Capturing the hippy spirit

Volkswagen Campervan hippy tattoo by @julia_dumps

A love letter to the famed Volkswagen Campervan, the sparing use of psychedelic colours and dripping effect means this is the perfect example and celebration of the 60s counter-culture.

Racing is life

BMW black and white racing car tattoo

If black and white is more your thing, maybe this collage of an illustrated touring car and speedometer does it for you. With smudged colouring to show off speed it’s a pretty cool concept to show off your love of racing.

Pontiac Firebird

Pontiac Firebird classic car tattoo

Vibrant colours used in conjunction with dull background colours to make the car jump out at you, as well as light colours used to create a chrome effect and shading used to create wheelspin, this tattoo is the perfect love letter to the iconic Firebird.

Five fails:

Vorsprung durch awful

Audi logo tattoo fail

At first I thought this was fake, but then I noticed the smeared tattoo ink in the creases of the hands and now I’m not so sure.

Try not to look at the gross fingernails for a second and focus on how badly messed up the famed Audi rings have been tattooed, then reel in horror at how the Audi isn’t even in the brand font. Then realise if you were really trying to look baller you’d have got some other high-end brand on your knuckles.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

Volkswagen Superman tattoo fail

… No, it’s the Volkswagen logo but in the shape of and colours of the Superman symbol.

What more can I say? Although the implications the tattoo raises are interesting – does this tattoo belong to a superhero who drives around in a Golf saving people? Did a VW save this person’s life?

VW is life

Bizarre Volkswagen back tattoo

Soooo it’s safe to say Volkswagen has a lot to answer for and there’s a lot to unpack here. In fact, the more you look at tattoo the more you notice new and stranger things.

The VW-emblem-headed devil and angel for example. The cupid-attacked/phoenix from the flames VW Beetle centre piece. It is either the work (and body) of a genius or a mad man.

The Mount Rushmore of awful

Fast and Furious Nissan GTR tattoo fail

No bad car tattoo compilation would be complete without at least one Fast and Furious tattoo. Forgoing any Paul Walker tributes in lieu of this Mount Rushmore of terrible actors, we get sorta-recognisable faces of the team along with a Nissan GT-R Skyline that looks like its bonnet has been badly dented, the wheel nearly wrenched off and its body has warped due to some extreme heat.

The most infuriating gearbox ever

Manual transmission gear tattoo fail

*sigh* your heart is in the right place but… come on, you’ve never driven a manual car before have you? In fact, think how infuriatingly funny it would be to get into a car with this kind of transmission.

Correct manual gear transmission tattoo

This girl on the other hand (pun intended) had a much better idea although it has sadly started to fade.

*all pictures taken from Pinterest. Credit given where possible.

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