Cars As Characters: The Art Of Damon Moran

Damon Moran is a Southern California native who spends his days working as a television animator at Cartoon Network, with a résumé that includes work for Nickelodeon, Sony, HBO and more. His specialty is backgrounds and mechanical design – a category that encompasses everything from buildings and robots to spaceships, airplanes and yes, cars.

Considering his day job is working as an animator, you might think the last thing Damon wants to do when he gets off work is create more art. But that’s not the case.


Because he doesn’t own the work that he does at his regular job, he spends much of his free time working on personal projects which he shares on social media and someday plans to publish.


Damon happens to be a lifelong gearhead, and although he’s primarily involved with motorcycles and motorcycle racing, automobiles are one his favorite subjects to illustrate. And his artwork is unlike anything else I’ve seen before. After constantly being wowed by his work on Instagram, I asked if he’d like to share some of illustrations here on Speedhunters, and he was kind enough to send some of his favorite works over for us to enjoy.


Damon tells me that while he got his start as a traditional pen and ink artist, the industry has largely shifted to a digital format, and he’s done the same. For him, the digital medium is largely the same as working with traditional tools with the benefit of more experimentation.


And experimentation is a huge part of Damon’s automotive artwork. His illustrations are usually sparked by wild ideas that enter his head, be them highly futuristic creations like this Honda ‘Formula Ultima’ from the year 2060.


Or other ideas that feature classic and iconic vehicles reimagined to look like they come from Akira’s Neo Tokyo, or a more high-tech version of Mad Max. For example, this creation known as the ‘Buzz Stang’ or the ‘Super Nova’ seen in the opening image.


While some automotive artists choose to go with a photorealistic or digital 3D approach, Damon’s work is much more derivative of traditional animation, and that’s one of the biggest things that draws me to it – no pun intended.


Damon says that he likes to add elements of caricature to his work whenever possible and this gives his cars a certain personality that may not be as obvious in reality.

Even when he creates an illustration of an actual car from the real word, like this Porsche, there’s a very distinct personality. It’s cartoonish in the best way.


It’s the same story with his take on the legendary Zakspeed Capri, although to be fair even in real life these cars are so wild and aggressive that they almost look like caricatures.

Of course, not all of Damon’s unique automotive creations are designed to come straight from a sci-fi story. A lot of his work shows some of our favorite real-world cars reimagined as ‘what if?’ racers and street machines.


How about a Shelby GT500 portrayed as wide-bodied ’70s road racer. This is the really fun stuff.


And here’s a Hakosuka Skyline built into a gasser with a straight axle and an enormous turbocharger popping out of the engine bay. Someone needs to build this in real life.


Sticking with the vintage Nissan theme for a moment, here’s Damon’s ‘Hakotora’ Sunny built into a modern Pre Runner.


It also seems that Damon has a soft spot for vintage Mazdas, based on his take of what Mad Mike’s PITBUL RE Pickup could look like.


As well as this ’74 Mazda RX-4 that’s been given an aero-laden circuit racer vibe with a radical set of screamer pipes.


Of all the illustrations Damon chose to share with us, this is one of my favorites. Dubbed ‘Il Topo Mostro’, it’s part Fiat 500, part rail dragster, and part vintage Formula 1 car.

Damon says that with his background in animation, his designs are really characters as much as they are automobiles. And after looking at his illustrations, it’s hard to think of a better way to describe them. After all, the idea of cars being more than machines is something that any auto enthusiasts can relate to.


I’d like to thank Damon for taking the time to share some of his work with us. If you are interested in seeing more, I highly recommend you follow him at the Instagram link listed below.

Mike Garrett
Instagram: japanifornia

Illustrations by Damon Moran
Instagram: damon_moran



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Too cool


Anyone wanna make one of these drawings a reality? That would be great!

Pete the perfect pilot

Loving the Rotas!


I've been a fan of Damon's for quite some time since I discovered him on Instagram. Hiss art is so hella sweet, that I just want everything that he's created. From his re-imagined Star Wars fighters, to the cars that have been shared here. It's been amazing seeing his form grow and get better and better and better!! Hi-fives to Speedhunters for showcasing this man's work!!!


Amazing stuff!!


This is awesome!!!


See russian painter Andrey Tkachenko, he draw soviet car in crazy tuning


I really like the cartoonish proportions. Nice balance between caricature and realism. Amazing stuff!

Gianluca FairladyZ

this guy's a fucking genius!


Loving this more cartoonish style. Great stuff Damon!


Was also about to recommend Andreys work! Great soviet style racing machines, as with this artist, if he was to publish a book I would definitely buy it!


THAT porsche baja....  BUILD IT !!!


Daron Modan is my new favourite cartist.  Heckin' sweeeeet picatures my dude.


And now, I'm sure, Mad Mike is scrambling to find a REPU


I looove the buzz-stang, especially the wheels. Also the rx4 is killer. Cars 3 anyone lol jk.


Awesome work! I'm loving that 488 GTB, the details are amazing!


Reminds me of that old PS2 game 'Auto Modelista', Cell shaded graphics and marginal driving characteristics, but still a neat game!

This guy needs to team up with EA or the guys from Grand Turismo to make a video game, would be awesome!


This guy is goddamn killing it, not only is his art style incredibly appealing but some of the ingeniuity of his ideas. The Hakosuka gasser just floored me.


B3N_H4RD35TY  that game was wicked. It may be a little dated but I still play it from time to time.






A fucking mazing. The gasser... U0001f60d


These are great. Makes me want to dust off my PS2 and pop in Auto Modellista


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Really like the way he rendered the turbos on the pickup. They just pop out of the page.

Personally, I love the look of cel animation. It's got a warmth the purely digital stuff lacks.


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Ferrari jumped off the page for me.


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I've been following Damon in instagram for awhile now - he does great work!




i would like an animation movie with this cars


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Totally cool! I can just imagine prints of these hanging all over my garage. Would be too epic.


wow cool work, love it


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this is awesome ^___^


NOSman If only things like this actually existed in the soviet era, my family would have never left the Motherland.


This 12 cylinder dragster could have existed theoretically! Apparently someone stole Alfa Romeo's early 70s 6 wheeled race car down in Florida around Sebring or Daytona and then rumors circulated about a 12 cylinder street drag car taking all comers at night. It would have been Alfa's 3L flat 12!


Along with Khyzl , this is some of the best automotive art I've ever seen !


This is crazy..! I grew up next door to Damon and I was talking with my wife about him the other day... we went to LegoLand in Carlsbad ca. And I was telling her I wouldn't be surprised if he worked there cause when we were kids he could build ANYTHING out of legos. Then I told her about how good he can draw and how we used to build those model cars together sometime.. then I decided to Google him and WOW..! I'm more than impressed. Keep doin yo thang Damon...!

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