Comic Cars

Gary S. Vasilash

It’s summer time, so apparently some OEMs are turning to flights of fancy.

Consider, for example, the SpongeBob 2014 Toyota Highlander.


The ostensible explanation for the creation of this one-off? “Like the Highlander, SpongeBob is family friendly and just plain fun—what more could you want in a family vehicle and cartoon?” said Jack Hollis, vp of Marketing, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A.

Meanwhile, Kia has rolled out the eighth in its line of DC superhero vehicles, a Sorrento that includes all of the members of the Justice League (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg), each of whom already has a specific car related to them.


The artwork was done by Jim Lee, noted comic book artist and a co-publisher at DC Entertainment, with which Kia has partnered on this project. Lee did the final air brushing of the car at, not surprisingly, Comic-Con in San Diego. Work on the Sorrento was also done by West Coast Customs, the firm well known for its amazing graphics work on vehicles.


In the case of the SpongeBob vehicle, it is a matter of simply (marketing) silliness. In the case of the Justice League vehicle, it is to raise money for the “We Can Be Heroes” initiative for the people in poverty in the Horn of Africa (an on-line auction for the vehicle is running through July 27).

But it raises a question as to whether something of this sort—comic-inspired cars—might not be what the OEMs are going to have to resort to in order to gain more interest among a cohort of young people who don’t seem to be all that interested in cars. While it might seem to be bizarre to be trying to have vehicles that are predicated on characters, let’s face it: there have been Bill Blass Editions for the prosperous and Dale Earnhardt signature vehicles for the NASCAR fans, so why not an array of cars for Gen Next?