Like many people who are into cars and have a talent for art, Seattle's Rob Evans loves to draw far-out, futuristic automobiles.
His creations are radical and innovative. If you were to ask him if he thought he'd see one in real life, he probably would have laughed at you.
That was before the Seward Park resident won an amateur design competition to create a new concept car from a 2014 Lexus IS. Last month, he saw one his designs transform from a dream to a reality.
Evans, 31, won a contest sponsored by DeviantART, an online community for artists to showcase their work. As part of the winning package, his design was brought to life by Southern California's VIP Auto Salon and revealed at the 2013 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) trade show last month in Las Vegas.
The contest solicited entries that would transform a Lexus while still keeping the spirit of the car intact. Designs had to be street legal and drivable without changing the inner workings of the vehicle.
Evans was flown to SEMA to see the unveiling. "I thought the car turned out great," he says. "It is really dramatic and seems to be very magnetic."
Winning the contest was a surreal experience, Evans says: "I was surprised by how closely they followed the design." The only change was to the rear bumper; it was supposed to be cut high, but the height would have interfered with the bumper mounting, he says.
Evans knew Lexus was excited about the car's spindle grille, so he decided to leave that alone. The car couldn't be too wild. "It still had to show as a Lexus," he says.
The self-taught graphic designer, who works for Georgetown Home and Garden, was inspired by the wide body designs found in the Japanese Grand Touring Championship, a racing series of GT cars. His changes to the rims and stance reflected designs often seen in Japanese VIP-style modifications for a low and wide stance.
About the contest
Judges from Motor Trend, Calty Design Research, VIP Auto Salon and Lexus collaborated to select the winners from among 25 semifinalists in the 2014 Lexus IS Design Contest. Here's what they said about Rob Evans' winning entry: "This entry has an aggressive design with a bold stance showing IS attitude that stands out. It is almost animated but with just enough realism. It screams SEMA and is an instant eye catcher that will fit right in." To see more entries, visit deviantart.com/contests/2013/lexus.
"Everything is sedated here [in the United States]," he says. "In Japan, the cultural community is based on absurd, over-the-top design. It keeps things interesting.
"[The car I designed is] obscenely wide with obscenely deep wheels. It has fender cutouts and winglets that have little functionality. It is pure fantasy and entertainment, and I kept that in mind while designing it. It should make people stop and say, 'Holy hell!' "
Evans drew a few initial designs on a notepad and then took his ideas into Adobe Photoshop. He mocked up the wheels in Google SketchUp.
It took him 10 design hours of work to hit on the winning creation, but he spent a lot of time thinking about it beforehand. He almost didn't make the deadline, submitting his design only 15 minutes before the cutoff.
While his winning entry proves he has the talent for automotive design, Evans says he isn't ready to change professions just yet. At SEMA, "I just tried to have fun and not worry about putting my business card in everyone's hands," he says.
In addition to winning a trip to Las Vegas to see the unveiling, Evans won a one-year lease on a new Lexus IS and $2,000 cash.