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Photograph by Sally Myers

Like many people of his generation, Baron Margo was dazzled by the futuristic concept cars Detroit trotted out year after year. And, like many people, he was disappointed that those streamlined vehicles remained unobtainable concepts to the average motorist. But unlike many people, Margo did something about it. He, as he describes it, “stepped up.”

He started to build his own cars. Cars that appear to come from a parallel world, one where you debate whether to vacation on the beaches of Venus or go skiing at Olympus Mons on Mars.

I first saw one of Margo’s rocket cars parked at a local diner, a gleaming silver torpedo wedged between unremarkable Corollas and SUVs. Closer inspection showed the work of an incredible craftsman: the sleek aluminum surface was covered with metallic detail, bristling with rivets, lights, and a massive faux jet exhaust with a rotating outer rim.

The three-wheeler uses recognizable parts — a modified front suspension from a VW Beetle, a motorcycle engine — in clever reworkings of proven designs, a practical approach that makes Margo’s vehicles not just beautiful to look at, but also legally roadworthy.

But these quite noticeable cars are just the surface. Margo’s home is a treasure trove of robots, rockets, and intricate machines, made primarily from found scrap, aerospace salvage, and construction remnants from the Glendale Galleria. Standing in one place, you can see a brass-and-steel train, an old Crosley auto, a gigantic robotic dragonfly, a family of upright robots and their android dog, and so much more. It’s dizzying, inspirational, and humbling.

Margo is a reserved man, and while he’s sold some works to the rich and famous and to the movies (rayguns for the Men In Black series), Margo does what he does simply because he loves it.

Margo is a wildly creative man, a dreamer who manages to actually make things real, thanks to a strong sense of the pragmatic, as seen in the two pieces of advice he gave me: “Take the easiest path” and “Don’t burn yourself.” Sage advice for every maker.

>> Baron Margo’s Cars and More: baronmargo.com

From the column Made on EarthMAKE 12, page 18 – Jason Torchinsky.

becky stern headshot MADE ON EARTH: Real Life Concept Cars

Becky Stern

Becky Stern is director of wearable electronics at Adafruit Industries. Her personal site: sternlab.org


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