American designer Rex Rosenberg is the proud owner of ChewBaru, a truly one-of-a-kind car. Originally a bland Subaru the unique vehicle has been covered with over 70 pounds of dentures and another 70 pounds of partial dentures and impressions. Not to mention the assortment of empty toothpaste tubes, dental tools, mannequin heads, doll parts and dental-themed stickers.
According to Rex, the ChewBaru is an ‘art car’, one of only around 1,000 that are estimated to be running in the US. He had always been interested in art cars, following ‘art car stuff’ on the internet since the late 1990s. So when he bought his Subaru in 2005, he started thinking of what he was going to do with it.
“Several ideas came to me, and I even started pursuing some of them by getting some materials,” he said. “However, none of them really grabbed me. It was while going to sleep somewhere in western Nebraska while on the Route 6 Art Car Tour that the idea for the ChewBaru came into my head! The idea of dentures came to me. I knew then what I was going to do.”
When he started telling people about his idea, the initial reactions were like, ‘Sick!’ or ‘gross’, but Rex decided to go ahead anyway. “I really knew I was on to a good idea and I had to do it,” he said. At first, he tried asking his dentist cousin for help finding discarded dentures. Unfortunately, the cousin thought the idea was too weird and refused to help.
Next, he started looking for dentures on eBay. He did find some for sale, but most of them were too expensive. Eventually, Rex got in touch with a dental student who made and sold dentures online. He also managed to find someone who donated a large number of dentures and dental molds. He bought several dental tools, individual teeth, and won an auction for 75 pounds of recycled dentures. He was also lucky enough to find some large teeth along with a couple of articulators used in making dentures.
Once he had all his raw materials in place, Rex began working on the massive project. First he took the Subaru to the car wash and then took a bunch of ‘before’ photographs. He then started to glue on all the dental props he had collected. He wasn’t sure how the dental molds would hold up in rough weather, so he dipped them in Varathane and let them dry before using them. He also soaked the recycled dentures in bleach and then sorted and graded them before putting them on his car.
Rex worked all through November of 2005, even taking a week off from his regular job to devote himself completely to his car. During this time, a couple of his fellow art car enthusiasts mailed him a special gift – a gold tooth! He ended up giving it a ‘place of honor’ in his car – on top of his rear view mirror. Rex also installed small wireless infrared night vision video cameras, to record people viewing or vandalizing the car.
As the work on the car progressed, Rex realized that 75 pounds of dentures were hardly sufficient to cover the entire body. So he decided to branch out. He managed to find a discarded mannequin and cut it into severl partsa. He then put a wig on its head, installed LED lights for the eyes and placed it on the roof of the car. Over time, he repeated the exercise with several other dolls of different sizes.
In May 2006, Rex’s many months of hard work paid off – the ChewBaru was finally ready to hit the world. Since then, he’s driven nearly 90,000 miles across 38 states and displayed the car at more than 40 art car shows. The car was recently displayed in a Butte car art show during the Montana Folk Fest. It has had mixed reactions from people – some said the ChewBaru is brilliant, while others found it incredibly creepy.
“You are sick, sick, sick. Your daughter is right,” Rex’s friend wrote in an email. “But you know, your link was one of the more entertaining websites I have visited recently. Thanks for making my day.” Some of his friends wanted time to digest the concept, while others were simply convinced that Rex had lost his marbles.