Luxury Overdrive

Luxury Overdrive

Arthur Kar took his love for automobiles (and his last name) and transformed it into a multi-faceted empire.

Arthur Kar took his love for automobiles (and his last name) and transformed it into a multi-faceted empire.

Photography: Karl Hab

Text: Stéphane Gaboué

This article appears in the pages of VMAN39, available on newsstands now. Order your copy now at vmagazineshop.com

When Arthur Kar was a child in his native Lebanon, there was one word that, to him, was synonymous with cars: Golf. His mechanic father drove a Volkswagen Golf GTI, and that legendary vehicle would sow the seeds of a fiery passion for automobiles that has grown exponentially, to the point that he is now arguably the world’s coolest car dealer.

Not only does he sell an eclectic array of stylish vintage rides (from—of course—Golf GTIs to gleaming Porsche 911s to hefty off-road Mercedeses), he also enjoys cachet thanks to an entourage that includes the likes of Kanye West (a friend, not a client, Kar says). Named L’art de l’Automobile, his company has now expanded to include a range of in-demand attire referencing automotive culture. All of these endeavors are headquartered on the 11th floor of a car park on Paris’s left bank.

Kar, 35, owes his automobile expertise to a long career begun as a mechanic at age 14, at a Porsche garage in suburban Paris, where he would do everything from washing to repairing. He eventually realized that if he “wanted to have beautiful cars,” he “would have to look like [his] clients, and not like a mechanic.” So, he branched into car sales, first with a partner during the aughts, then solo beginning in 2012. A fashion and art buff since childhood, he designs every single T-shirt with his team, many of them sporting humorous prints with cautionary tale undertones (for example, a car stuck in concrete representing stolen wheels). Interestingly, he’s never designed a car, although he would find the prospect of a collaboration with Pininfarina, the legendary Italian car design firm, tempting.

“I’m a cultural designer, not a fashion designer,” says Kar. And yet, his clothing, available at stores like Paris’s The Broken Arm, seems to be getting as much attention as his va-va-voom cars. Indeed, he’s had people ask, “Do I need to buy a car to get a T-shirt?”

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