Golden MeanGolden MeanGolden MeanGolden Mean
Golden Mean

Text by Emily Lang of Wired Magazine,
the entire article can be found here.

OAKLAND, California — In a project that would make Franz Kafka grin, a 40-year-old bug has metamorphosed into a snail. The resulting creation, an art car called The Golden Mean, is a golden gastropod that glows in the dark and shoots rings of fire from its feelers. It also seats six comfortably.

Kyrsten Mate, of Empire of Dirt, says she literally dreamed up the concept. "I woke up and said, ‘We have to build this giant snail.' It totally wasn’t planned. This whole project has been weird coincidences and math."

The visually stunning vehicle takes its name from the golden ratio, a mathematical proportion that’s said to produce aesthetically pleasing art and architecture. Other inspirations for the project include the Giant Pink Sea Snail from Doctor Dolittle, giant mechanical elephant puppets by Royal de Luxe and Jules Verne’s imaginative creations.

The Golden Mean Snail Car is a giant hot rod art car built by a group of artists in West Oakland’s Kraftworks building. Conceived of in a dream in 2008 by artist Kyrsten Mate, blacksmith Jon Sarriugarte, who fabricates custom home furnishings, worked with his wife, Kyrsten Mate to build this extraordinary vehicle with the help of the artist members of Empire of Dirt.
This surprising vehicle takes its name from the golden ratio, a mathematical proportion that is said to produce aesthetically pleasing art and architecture. Built on a 1967 VW bug chassis, the Golden Mean Snail Car features seating for six, rein-triggered fire shooting eye stalks, and a signature antiqued patina finish.
Past Shows
2017-04Burning Man Leadership Conference Party
2016-10Autumn Lights Festival
2016-04Burning Man Leadership Conference
2015-06Warriors Parade
2015-06US Mayors Conference
2015-05Maker Faire San Mateo
2015-01Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf Inauguration
2014-05Maker Faire San Mateo
2013-09Starlight Gala Chabot Space and Science Center
2013-08Burning Man Honorarium
2013-05Maker Faire San Mateo
2013-05Google X
2013-04Exploratorium Gala
2013-04California Academy of Sciences
2013-03Exploratorium Parade
2012-08Burning Man Honorarium
2012-05Maker Faire San Mateo
2011-08Burning Man Honorarium
2011-04Railroad Revival Tour
2011-01IDEO Holiday Party
2010-08Burning Man Honorarium
2010-06Lacma at the Tar Pits
2010-06Western Days, Marin
2010-04Pathways Show
2010-03Beyond Wonderland
2010-03Nova Albion Steampunk
2009-09Handcar Regatta
2009-08Burning Man Honorarium
2009-07Fire Arts Festival
2009-01Eduardian Ball
2008-08Burning Man Honorarium
  • Performance
    63 mph | 101.5 km/h
    100mi | 161km
    4 (with seat belts)
    19 (absolute maximum capacity)
  • Dimensions
    1000 lbs | 453.6 kg (front)
    2000 lbs | 907.2 kg (back)
    3000 lbs | 1360.8.2 kg (total)
    187in | 475.0cm
    80in | 203.2cm
    127in | 322.6cm
  • Chassis
    Frame Construction:
    1967 Volkswagon Beetle
  • Drive
    Rear: Mechanical Drum
    Front: Mechanical Drum
    Parking: Hand Brake
    Rear: Air Suspension
    Front: Torsion Beam
  • Fuel
    Car Engine:
    5gal Unleaded Gasoline Tank
    Fire Effects:
    7-10gal RV Propane Tank
  • Note
    Vehicle specifications subject to change without notice