HomeNews and EventsSEMA Seen: The Valyrian Steel

SEMA Seen: The Valyrian Steel


At first glance, the Valyrian Steel looks like the chromed skeletal remains of some pre-historic creature. Stretching more than 27 feet in length, this entanglement not of fossilized bone but of modern stainless-steel tubing is the most attention-demanding vehicle at the 2015 SEMA Show.

And it’s not even finished!

The rear wheels, diff and suspension
The rear wheels, diff and suspension

After 2,000 man-hours of work, there are still fenders, sculptural bodywork and more to be added. But that didn’t stop this automotive art machine from making its debut earlier this year at Burning Man, that annually constructed temporary city in the desert which proclaims itself, “a culture of possibility, a network of dreamers and doers.”

An anonymous Burning Man participant commissioned Las Vegas artist Henry Chang to create a vehicle that could cruise across the Black Rock desert in northern Nevada at speeds between 5 and 45 miles per hour.

Valyrian Steel takes its name from artifacts — weapons and armor — from the Game of Thrones television series.

Chang already had done his own iHeartCar, an art car that in photos looks like sort of an overgrown series of Slinky toys made into a motor vehicle.

According to a “frequently asked questions” sheet that John Perez, part of Chang’s Playaworks group that produced Valyrian Steel, posted on the vehicle, production started in April. Chang began by creating the passenger compartment, which was fabricated before the front suspension was designed. Once completed, those sections inspired the rest, “the real life form,” according to the FAQ sheet, including the rear suspension.

The tourbillon towers high above the vehicle
The tourbillon towers high above the vehicle

There was no completed model of the vehicle, simply bits and pieces of computer-aided design work by Change and a lot of bent 304 and 316 stainless-steel tubing.

The vehicle has five seats — three up front, with the driver in the middle, and two in the second row. Power is provided by a 5.0-liter Ford Coyote V8 engine.

Atop the structure is a kinetic sculpture with gears that turn in response to a hand crank. Perez said the sculpture is based on the tourbillon, an 18th Century watchmaker’s creation that uses moving parts within a rotating cage rather than employing springs to overcome gravitational forces and thus keep accurate time.

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

Recent Posts