top of page
  • Writer's pictureTrevor Huff

Turning Junk into Gems: The Art of Upcycling Old Cars

When it comes to old cars, most people would think of them as nothing more than junk. But for a select few, these vehicles hold a special charm, a hidden potential waiting to be unlocked. The art of upcycling old cars has gained popularity in recent years, as people look for ways to repurpose and breathe new life into these forgotten relics. From transforming them into stylish coffee tables to converting them into functional pieces of art, upcycling old cars has become a creative outlet for many enthusiasts.

What is upcycling?

Before diving into the world of upcycling old cars, let's first understand what upcycling really means. Upcycling is the process of taking discarded or waste materials and repurposing them into something of higher value or quality. It goes beyond mere recycling, which typically involves breaking down materials to create something new. Upcycling, on the other hand, focuses on transforming the existing materials into something with a new purpose, often enhancing its aesthetic appeal along the way.

The concept of upcycling is not limited to old cars; it can be applied to various other objects and materials. However, when it comes to automobiles, the possibilities are endless. Old cars, whether they are worn-out classics or rusted hulks, can be transformed into unique and eye-catching creations that showcase the ingenuity and creativity of their makers.

The appeal of upcycling old cars

So, what makes upcycling old cars so appealing? For many, it's the idea of giving these forgotten vehicles a second chance. It's about challenging the conventional notion of what constitutes beauty and value. Instead of succumbing to the passage of time and letting these cars rot away, upcyclers see potential in their components and structures.

Old cars possess a certain charm that is hard to replicate with modern vehicles. Their classic lines, intricate details, and nostalgic vibes have a timeless appeal. By upcycling old cars, enthusiasts can preserve and showcase these unique attributes in new and unexpected ways.

Upcycling old cars also offers an opportunity to reduce waste and minimize environmental impact. Instead of adding to the mountains of discarded vehicles in junkyards, upcycling allows for the reuse of existing materials. It's a sustainable approach that aligns with the principles of the circular economy.

The art of upcycling

Upcycling old cars requires a combination of technical skills, creativity, and vision. It's a blend of engineering, design, and craftsmanship that transforms a dilapidated vehicle into a work of art.

One common way to upcycle old cars is by repurposing their exteriors. The car body, often stripped of its mechanical components, can be used as a canvas for artists to showcase their skills. From murals to intricate paint jobs, the possibilities for transforming a car's exterior are limited only by the artist's imagination.

Another popular approach to upcycling old cars is to convert them into functional pieces of furniture. Car bodies can be transformed into unique coffee tables, desks, or even beds. By incorporating the car's original features and adding elements such as glass tops or custom upholstery, these furniture pieces become conversation starters and focal points in any space.

Some upcyclers take it a step further and repurpose old car parts for home decor. From using car rims as unconventional planters to turning exhaust pipes into light fixtures, these creative individuals find new uses for automotive components that were once considered nothing more than scrap.

Real-life examples

Let's take a look at a few real-life examples of upcycled old cars to get a better sense of the possibilities:

1. Cars as art installations: In a project called "Carhenge," Jim Reinders used old cars to recreate the iconic Stonehenge structure in the United States. The result is a unique and thought-provoking art installation that captures the imagination of passersby.

2. Classic car bar: In Canada, an old Chevrolet truck was transformed into a fully functional bar, complete with a keg tap and custom interior. This upcycled creation allows car enthusiasts to enjoy their favorite drinks while surrounded by automotive nostalgia.

3. Vintage car couch: Upholsterer Greg Leon embraced his love for classic cars and turned a 1959 Cadillac into a luxurious couch. The now-iconic piece serves as a testament to the beauty and comfort that can be achieved through upcycling.

Upcycling old cars as a business

The world of upcycling old cars has not gone unnoticed by entrepreneurs. Many individuals have turned their passion for giving old cars new life into viable businesses. From custom furniture shops specializing in upcycled car parts to art galleries showcasing automotive-inspired creations, the market for upcycled products continues to grow.

One successful example is "Rusty Gold," a company based in the United Kingdom. They specialize in upcycling classic cars, transforming them into bespoke furniture pieces that capture the essence of automotive history. Their creations have found homes in luxury hotels, private residences, and even movie sets.

Another example is "Re:Start Auto," a company based in Australia. They offer a range of upcycled car parts that can be repurposed for various applications. Their catalog includes unique home decor items, accessories, and even jewelry made from salvaged automotive components.

These businesses not only contribute to the upcycling movement but also provide sustainable alternatives to mass-produced products. By embracing the art of upcycling old cars, they offer customers a chance to own one-of-a-kind pieces that tell a story and carry a sense of history.


The art of upcycling old cars is a testament to human creativity and resourcefulness. It's a way of breathing new life into forgotten relics and showcasing their hidden potential. By repurposing old cars, enthusiasts not only preserve automotive history but also contribute to a more sustainable future.

Whether it's transforming car bodies into art installations, converting them into functional furniture, or repurposing their parts for home decor, upcycling old cars is a captivating and meaningful endeavor. It's about unlocking the beauty within the forgotten and turning junk into gems.

1 view


bottom of page