MotorCities National Heritage Area

By Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher
Images Courtesy of the Tom Fritz Illustration Collection
Published 1.22.2020

Ears Are Gonna Be Ringing by Tom Fritz 1Ears Are Gonna Be Ringing by Tom Fritz

One of today’s most gifted and talented automotive artists is Tom Fritz. His artwork is admired by people all over the world. I’m a big fan of Fritz’s automotive illustrations.

Some time ago, I saw his 2016 Shelby Mustang GT 350 poster and was amazed by the great colors and contrast that highlighted the print. Also, the earlier Shelby in the background highlighted our great automotive past blending with the 2016 model.

2016 Mustang Shelby GT 350 Poster by Tom Fritz 22016 Mustang Shelby GT 350 Poster by Tom Fritz

Fritz was born and raised in the beautiful San Fernando, California during the 1960s and 1970s, when American culture was driving great muscle cars with that added horsepower, and many consumers thoroughly enjoyed performance. He received his bachelors degree in illustration from California State University, Northridge.

At an early age, Fritz was attracted to auto racing, as well as the popular hot-rodding culture and motorcycles. His artwork captures the feel of a culture that brings backs fond memories to many people.

Ending the Rumors by Tom Fritz RESIZED 3Ending the Rumors by Tom Fritz

Some artists have called Fritz’s illustrations “colorful impressionistic brushwork.” His work has been acclaimed by companies like Harley-Davidson, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Petersen Publishing Company and many others. For me, his paintings capture the essence of time when I was a teenager during the 1970s.

Tom Fritz 4Tom Fritz

Fritz’s art studio is in Ventura County, California. In 2001, Harley-Davidson commissioned him to paint an image commemorating their 100th Anniversary. He had also illustrated their annual report series. That series of images was well received and recognized by many worldwide.

1969 Dodge Charger Daytona postage stamp by Tom Fritz RESIZED 51969 Dodge Charger Daytona postage stamp by Tom Fritz

Fritz’s portfolio also highlights several beautiful images with a muscle car theme created for the U.S Postal Service. Fritz created art for a series of commemorative stamps honoring great muscle cars, including the 1969 Dodge Daytona which was very popular. Other popular stamps in the series included a 1970 Chevelle SS, the 1966 Pontiac GTO, the 1967 Ford Mustang Shelby GT 500 and a 1970 Plymouth Hemi Cuda. The stamps created a big sensation with stamp collectors and automotive enthusiasts from all over the world. The artwork will become a part of the permanent collection at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C.

Like Dogs Were After Him by Tom Fritz RESIZED 6Like Dogs Were After Him by Tom Fritz

His work not only highlights classic muscle car illustrations, but he uses his creative technique for hot rod scenes as well. There are many great fans of hot rodding and its part in automotive history. His genius of using attractive colors and shadows tells the story of when hot rodding was just beginning to take hold in our car culture.

Fritz and his portfolio of Harley-Davidson and other motorcycle paintings capture the look and feel of the bike. His classic car paintings from muscle cars to hot rods, illustrate an American performance generation that will always be a part of our culture and automotive history. His work has been reproduced in several internationally published magazines and as posters for numerous motorsport events.

Echoes of Thunder by Tom Fritz 7Echoes of Thunder by Tom Fritz

Finally, Fritz has received many prestigious awards from the Automotive Fine Arts Society (AFAS) for his paintings, including the Peter Helck Award (Best in Show) an unprecedented seven times, the Art Fitzpatrick Award twice, the Lincoln Award of Excellence, and others at AFAS’ exhibition at the Pebble Beach Concour d’Elegance.

Tom Fritz will always be a part of our automotive heritage, and his great paintings will be admired by future generations to come. For more information on Fritz and his artwork, visit his website

Happy Mothers Day by Tom Fritz RESIZED 8Happy Mothers Day by Tom Fritz


Autobody News. “World-renowned Fine Artist Tom Fritz Wows Audiences with Automobile, Motorcycle Art.” February, 2018., 2020.