Recycled Hawtness: Junkyard Cars at the Empire Drive In Movie Theater

Junkyard Cars Drive-in

Drive in movie theaters used to be a part of the American experience, with family sedans packed with kids and young couples intent on fogging up the windows showing up in more or less equal numbers. Over the past twenty or twenty-five years, however, the drive in has gone from “endangered” to “nearly extinct” – especially in major metropolitan areas like New York or Chicago. That’s where the Empire theater comes in.

Built as a temporary art installation by Brooklyn-based artists Jeff Stark and Jean Barberis, the Empire first “popped up” in California in 2010, and uses junkyard cars as the theater’s “seats”. The artists use these locally-sourced shells in “an attempt to demonstrate the outcome of planned obsolescence.”

It’s worth noting, perhaps, that the people promoting the Empire don’t seem to know much about cars, with the words “In (the) era of America’s classic cars—such as the Thunderbirds, Corvettes, and Mustangs of the 1920’s—cars were made to last” appearing irony-free. On the off-chance that you don’t see a problem there, the cars mentioned appeared between 1953 and 1964. That little gem is followed with “The artists included familiar brands, such as … Ford, in an attempt to demonstrate the outcome of planned obsolescence,” further betraying a fundamental ignorance of the car industry.

Still, you don’t need to have a clue about cars to make a good point, and these artists certainly makes theirs – and ours! The Recycled Hawtness series of articles is, itself, supposed to be a demonstration of the idea that you don’t need a new car to go green, go fast, or have fun.

Good on them, then.

You can check out the Empire drive in movie theater experience at the New York Hall of Science in Queens, New York between October 4-20th, with tickets priced at under $20. Enjoy!


Source | More photos: Core 77.

Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, out on two wheels, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.