Wood You Believe it?—The Amamzing Bugatti T 35 of Paul Jacobsen
At a young age, Paul Jacobsen became fascinated with cars, playing with his Dinky Toy racecars (like many of us). In his own words Paul says, “I still have this recurring dream where I reach out for these wonderful things and they all melt away. Once a Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing stopped near our home and I thought it was the wildest thing. And when I discovered Road and Trackmagazine, Behra, Castellotti and DePortago became my baseball players.”
Growing up in Connecticut, he also developed as an artist. He studied Industrial design, painting and sculpture at the University of Bridgeport, but he knew he did not want to work for a big commercial corporation. So he went back to school to study painting. The final finish on his sculptures is the most rewarding for him. He starts with a base coat of black and then works up to the color and detail in acrylic. Gerald Wingrove (one of the best model builders in the world) is an inspiration to him because of his emphasis on exact detail.
In 1971, he became a freelance illustrator and designer specializing in automotive commercial accounts and won awards for advertising, design and outdoor illustration and, by 1977, he transitioned to being a full-time fine artist in calligraphy and pattern paintings and started selling his work in galleries in N.Y.C. and Aspen. He also began exhibiting in museums such as the Denver Museum, Aspen Arts Museum and the Museum of Miniatures. It was at this time he began showing and selling his work in Europe and South America.
Having clients around the world and wanting to get back to his old passion, he decided to build a few cars that he always admired, such as the Auto Union G.P., the Blower Bentley, the Alfa Monza, the Lancia-Ferrari GP car and the Bugatti T 35.
He carved them out of wood in large scale—30-in long or bigger—and made a Sculpture/Model, very detailed with engine and cockpit adding a few metal pieces and cloth seats. When he carved those parts, he made a few of each so he could build a small edition.
The Bugatti T 35 shown, was made in an edition of six and they were completed in 2014. The example we have is the last one available from his series of racecars. These accurate, historic icons are still called by Paul as “Polychrome Wood Paintings and Sculptures,”
Paul is more known for his “Americana” series of miniature Adirondack Chairs which he originally made to decorate doll houses, contemporary wood paintings and then larger relief Sculptures that are widely recognized and collected. The success of the miniature chair collection allowed him to branch out towards his real passion which was those beautiful, exotic cars.
Also for a period of time, Paul carved what he calls his “Neo Pop Toys Era” with more whimsical vehicles like the Citroen 2 CV, the Morris Minor, the Chrysler Airflow with kayaks on the roof, or the Buick Woody towing an Airstream caravan. One of his more outrageous models is a 1947 Buick with a driver smoking a big Cuban cigar and an elaborately dressed hooker in the back seat as a passenger.
For many years, Paul longed to own some fantastic exotic cars but now he resigns himself to building his own. Future projects included a possible Ferrari Testa Rossa and maybe a Mercedes W 125. “I am looking forward to making those big fenders,” he says. But for now, Paul has slowed down. No more large sculptures are in the works. He is instead concentrating on flat artwork.
He spends his time between his workshop in isolated Colorado and his home in Arizona.
We have had a few of Paul Jacobsen’s sculptures available over the years but the Bugatti is the last one from that series and is available from arteauto.com in our sculpture section.