One Piece at a Time by Jonathan Brand is a 3D paper version of a 1969 Ford Mustang. The sculpture is a one-to-one scale of the classic ’69 chassies, all the details of the car, amazingly, are based on his memory and a few photographs. Strapped for cash, Jonathan sold his ’69 Mustang to buy a diamond engagement ring. Great story, great art.

Also, those who are familiar with the processes of translating 3D models to physical form will certainly cringe when thinking about the amount of time and meticulous attention to detail it must have taken to build this sculpture.


The title, One Piece at a Time, is a nod to the Johnny Cash song about a Detroit assembly line worker who dreams of someday owning one of the Cadillac’s he assembles and decides to steal one, one piece at a time and reassemble it.

It’s a theme that runs through my life and my current work. I was born in a small working class city in Canada on the border with Michigan. The song points to the Midwest working class mentality that I grew up in and more literally my practice of making one piece of something at a time not always knowing what the sum of these parts will be or how they will interact.

Cars played a pivotal part of my upbringing and the forming of my personal relationships as well as who I am as an artist. My grandfather built the assembly lines that Cash refers to, my uncle and cousins are mechanics, my father and I restored 3 antique vehicles, one of which is the focus of this project.

I later sold this car to pay for a diamond engagement ring.  This project became closely linked to my emerging ideals, consuming my focus and is an experience that I continually draw on in my studio practice.

The original car didn’t run and I never drove it. The body and interior were completely refinished but not its mechanicals, making the paper version almost as complete as the original. The details of the car are based more on my memory and a few photographs. I no longer have access to the original car and chose not to use a surrogate to measure and get all the details correct. I like when things are slightly off, in the wrong place or missing, just like my memories of the original.

via Jonathan Brand