The 2023 Nissan Z is undoubtedly a work of automotive art, boasting a fresh and sleek exterior design with a silhouette that communicates respect to its lineage with classic sports car proportions. Recently, artist David "Dez" Zambrano took the meaning of automotive art to the next level, using the Nissan Z as a blank slate to create a one-of-a-kind, 3D art piece at the seventh annual ART-of-Motion showcase by Automotive Rhythms.
Taking place during the 2023 Washington Auto Show, Dez painted the car as show attendees gathered to watch. His design drew on extensive research into Japanese culture and art styles, incorporating dramatic samurai warriors on the hood, cherry blossoms and other uniquely Japanese elements.
Dez started by sketching an outline for his work onto the car in black and white on the first day of the show, before returning to complete the design with paint on subsequent days.
Before photo of the Nissan Z before Dez Zambrano worked his magic.
The work-in-progress as Dez paints for an audience.
"This car, specifically the lines, is gorgeous," Dez said of the Nissan Z. "It's got that feeling of motion. When you add the cherry blossoms and other elements, it makes the car look like it's already heading down the road. It was so much fun."
Nissan was a sponsor of the 2023 ART-of-Motion showcase, which is now in its seventh year at the Washington Auto Show. Created by digital lifestyle publication Automotive Rhythms, the exhibit is intended to "bring lifestyle and art into the auto show space," said Kimatni Rawlins, president and publisher of Automotive Rhythms.
"The Nissan Z by Dez Customz was, by far, the most prominent art car in the space this year," Rawlins said.
Driver's side view of Dez Zambrano's Japanese heritage inspired design.
View of the hood of Dez Zambrano's Japanese heritage inspired design.
Dez regularly entertains spectators as he works while they look on to see the creativity come to life. At the Washington Auto Show this year, Dez invited some enthusiastic younger art and car fans to participate in the fun by helping him apply brush strokes to the finished work.
"You make art to convey a message, to tell a story, to connect to people," Dez added. "It's more fun working in front of a crowd. When we finally unmasked the car, there were a lot of 'oohs' and 'aahs' that day."
For Dez, working on the 2023 Nissan Z brought him full circle to some of his earliest and fondest automotive memories. His first car was part of the more than five decades of Nissan Z heritage: a 280ZX that he and his father rebuilt at his father's body shop. That car still holds an important place in Dez's heart.
"It was a cool car to have at the age of 17. It was the perfect car and I reminisce about it all the time – it held some of the best memories I've ever had," Dez said.
Find more of Dez's work on Instagram at @deztheartist76 and Automotive Rhythms @AutomotiveRhythms