OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — The new mayor of Oakland has been meeting the community in the hottest ride in town: a fire-breathing snail car dreamt up by local artists.

“My wife had a dream sometime in 2006 about the car and we sketched it out on a napkin and talked about it for years,” artist Jon Sarriugarte told KPIX 5.

The artist and his wife, Krysten, built the fire-breathing ride out of a Volkswagen bug at the Form & Reform studio in West Oakland, where he designs elaborate light fixtures. The snail debuted at Burning Man that year.

Behind the wheel of the snail car. (CBS)

Behind the wheel of the snail car. (CBS)

“It was a hit. Everybody was like, ‘Oh my God.’ It set a new precedent for art cars out there,” Sarriugarte recalled.

But this art car’s biggest moment was yet to come. Fast-forward six years, Sarriugarte decided to support Libby Schaaf for Mayor of Oakland.

“I’ve been driving around,” the artist said, “With Libby signs all over it.”

Sarriugarte jokingly suggested Schaaf ride the snail car the day after she was elected, never believing she would actually do it.

And yet there she was after her big win, taking her victory lap around Lake Merritt, at a snail’s pace.

Libby Schaaf rides in the snail car after being elected Mayor of Oakland. (CBS)

Libby Schaaf rides in the snail car after being elected Mayor of Oakland. (CBS)

“The smile on her face said it all. As soon as the fireballs went off, she was, ‘Yes!’” Sarriugarte said.

The mayor loved it so much she rode it to her inauguration as well.

Ignore for a moment the parallels one could draw about slow-moving government. Sarriugarte said thanks to the snail, Oakland artists are having a moment. “It’s helping Oakland and helping the art scene,” he said.

According to the makers, the snail car gets about 30 miles per gallon. The artists have no plans to sell the car.

Comments (3)