The Automotive Alchemist


Andy Saunders


Andy Saunders’ ‘Automotive Alchemist ’ is a roller-coaster ride through the highs and lows of this charismatic man’s life. From the early years of learning the basic skills of cutting and shaping metal then painting and airbrushing, to his mature creations, restorations and the inherent genius of his designs. Andy welcomes us into his workshop and his head: not afraid to express his emotions, as he deconstructs and then rebuilds each vehicle, he lays bare his motivations, inspirations, influences, and passions. Intertwined in the narrative is the work involved in the creation of 60 cars, described here with many detailed photographs.

Forty-two of Andy’s creations now reside in museums and private collections across the globe but the most unusual fate is that of Flat Out, the Guinness Book of Records acclaimed Lowest Car in the World, which is now a coffee table in the foyer of a huge Californian corporation.

The book is not a technical ‘how to create wild custom cars’ manual. Rather it is a celebration of Andy’s joy of creation and his design genius, though tempered by personal traumas and losses. He has, on many occasions, been referred to as the British George Barris, the American “King of Kustomizers.” Unlike many biographies, this book engages the reader with its honesty and humour.

Andy Saunders grew up in Poole on the south coast of England and developed an early relationship with the building and customising of cars. His first project was finished before he was old enough to hold a British driving license.

Since that first project, his journey to become Britain’s leading and most recognisable ‘Car Artist’ has evolved. With his painstaking attention to detail and his knowledge of the styling masters from bygone eras, his creations have always been unique and, occasionally, controversial.

Never shy of turning his ideas into reality or taking unexpected opportunities to fruition, Andy has, on occasions, thrown away the accepted rule book and created some truly amazing vehicles: making a Citroën CX into a road-legal alien craft; turning Ford’s 1958 X-2000 ‘car of the future’ model into a full-sized reality and creating a Cord coupe that the factory would have been proud to call their own.

Andy has three Guinness Book of Records certifications: twice for the ‘lowest car in the world’ and once for the ‘lowest van in the world’ which remains unbeaten and has been approached by film companies and undertaken commissions for major car manufacturers. But mostly he builds whatever has inspired his creative juices from lowriders, Incantation, to shortened Minis, Mini Ha Ha; from restyling a Bentley Mulsanne, which was acclaimed by the Rolls-Royce and Bentley Owners Club as “the most beautiful coachbuilt Bentley to have been built since WWII”, to a 2CV inspired by Picasso – Picasso’s Citroën; and from his drivable version of Bertone’s Lancia Stratos Zero to his Art Deco creation of a rare 1939 Peugeot, Metropolis, inspired by Fritz Lang’s 1927 masterpiece of the same name.

During the past four decades Andy has restored Cord, Pontiac and Rolls Royce vehicles. Rescued and restored the unique and much-maligned 1957 Aurora Safety Sedan and realised an affinity with the great designer Alex Tremulis. Andy’s creations have appeared in exhibitions, on television and in magazines as far afield as Australia, Korea, America, the UK and Europe and many of his vehicles nowadays reside in museums and collections from California to Japan and from Europe to the Middle East.

And so to his latest masterpiece, Déjà: inspired by a 1930’s popular French girls name, some body panels he didn’t want or need and the pinnacle of French coachbuilding, Andy has created this Delahaye, a hand-built steel roadster. This beautiful cross between Joseph Figoni’s 165s and Jacques Saoutchik’s 175 somehow appears to be some eighty-five years late for her debut at the Paris Salon de l’Automobile.

  • 464 pages
  • Hard cover with dust jacket