Vintage vehicles, Automotive history and stories from motoring's past. 

Hanging with Automotive Artist Marvin Cox


There are all sorts of art forms but my favorite, of course, is the kind you find at car shows. And we got to know the artist behind the some of that really impressive work recently when I met Marvin Cox, automotive artist, who blew my mind with the “tin woodie” paint job on a mid-60s Ford wagon. While this automotive woodgrain looked fantastic what was also amazing is that it was accomplished with sponges from the local big box retailer. 

Marvin has been painting since these classics were new and is a self-taught artist. While he truly is a master with an air brush that’s not his only medium. Some of his first art projects infuriated his mom as it was the inside windows of the family’s ’56 Chevy wagon. But rather than paint, he just used the condensation that developed as he and his siblings rode around town and fogged up the windows. 

Starting in grade school, Marvin immediately took to painting impressing his teachers and also anyone else with eyeballs. After figuring out how to teach a paint brush a thing or two, he moved on to air brushing. Another medium of choice in his younger years was glass and he was etching that as early as eight years old. But not the glass in the family’s Chevy, of course. 

The house next door happened to be abandoned so Marvin took a sheet over and started practicing with the air brush. It didn’t take long for him to master all kinds of techniques. But the “tin woodie” is something that just blew me away - maybe because I like the woodgrain background as is evidenced by this website. Ya’ think? 

Marvin Cox applying customized woodgrain to the wagon trim

Starting with an airbrushed solid base Marvin deftly added layers of color and nuances to the side of the Ford until the job was finished and the forests were jealous. Personally I just can’t get over how good the woodgrain looks but I’m always impressed by people who have tremendous talent and can just freestyle this sort of thing. You don’t need stickers when you’ve got talent. 

Of course woodgrain isn’t the only thing Marvin’s painted. His subjects range from motorcycle helmets to children’s riding toys to murals in his local town. 

While there is a huge automotive market in Southern California Marvin practices his art just north of Saint Louis, Missouri. He prefers the types of paints he can use there such as traditional lacquers that have been deemed to cool for Cali. California is the state that seriously contemplated putting fart catchers on cows. Something is really wrong here. 

Of all the mediums he’s used, Marvin says, “I like doing cars and bikes - especially older American iron.”  Still, “If anybody needs something painted I can paint it. There isnt’ too much I haven’t painted.”

Next time you go to a car show keep an eye peeled. If you see a really creative paint job on one of those beautiful cars that may just be the work of Marvin Cox. 

Of course Marvin is also interested in finding more cool projects and can be reached at (618) 377-2026. 

I get to meet the coolest autonuts who love vintage cars as much as I do.


Tony Barthel

Tony Barthel has been writing articles and blogs since 1996 with reviews of new cars, stories about old cars and the people who love them and finding the best car shows around for the Curbside car show calendar. He is also author of a book on event planning and public speaker on business and tourism marketing plus a YouTube creator of travel videos. Tony loves RVing and is the co-publisher of the StressLess Camping blog.