By Samantha Grillo @_samanthagrillo
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Videographer / Director: Jason Janik
Producer: Thomas Midlane, Nick Johnson
Editor: Joshua Douglas, Kyle Waters
Artist Isaac Cohen handcrafts the drivable works of art, which are completely street-legal and custom built.
The 63-year-old has been working with wood since the age 13 and in 1985 opened his own business, Classy Art Wholesalers, selling his custom furniture and frames.
But in 2002 Isaac decided to take his passion for carving to new heights by building a functioning work of art - a wooden car he nicknamed Splinter.
Isaac said: “I never had time to do my artwork between running my business and supporting my family.
“For my 50th birthday I decided I was going to make a wooden car - something I became obsessed with once I started.
“I spent almost 13-14 hours a day on Splinter, but all the hard work came from my heart.
“Sometimes I woke up at four in the morning because I was anxious to get into the shop to work on it.”
Splinter was made out of more than 5,000 feet of wooden strips that were glued together and bent to the shape Isaac envisioned.
The steering wheel was constructed from 260 pieces of wood, the gear shift from 90 pieces, and even the handle of the car keys are made from 60 pieces of wood.
The 21 foot long car has no handles as the doors and trunks are remote-control operated.
Isaac said: “When it came time to naming the car, my youngest son suggested ‘Splinter’ and I had so many splinters in my fingers it was the perfect name.
“It is my favorite car in terms of craftsmanship - it is my masterpiece.”
After completing Splinter, Isaac became restless and wanted to continue to challenge his artistic abilities.
He said: “I built Lil Splinter because I didn’t know what to do with myself when I was done with the first car.
“The mini version of my original Splinter was built on a golf cart and gets a lot of attention at parades.”
Also in his garage is a full size wooden truck and a car built on a Volkswagen frame.
Isaac said: “Big J is my truck - everyone in Texas has one, so I wanted to build my own.
“It was built with African rosewood and maple and is fully equipped with a TV, Nintendo, DVD player - if I come to your town you will hear me because I’m very loud.
“Slinder is one of my favorites to drive because it can go up to 77 miles per hour and drives very nicely on the highway.”
Isaac brings his unique cars to parades and car shows but says he gets the most satisfaction from driving it on the street and visiting hospitals.
He said: “I built these cars so I could share them with people and I get so much joy seeing people waving, giving me a thumbs up, screaming and honking their horns.
“We go to parades, schools, and hospitals to visit sick kids and the reactions I see when they are inside the car is the biggest satisfaction I can get.”
And while his stunning vehicles attract the attention of potential buyers, Isaac does not plan on selling any of them.
“I’ve had a huge offer on Splinter but I passed on it - I never sold any of my cars but I have donated one that was auctioned off for charity," he said.
“In the future I want to build a motorcycle which some engineers say is impossible but I’m going to try to do it.
“I can’t get enough of this - I like the challenge and it’s an honour to be able to share my artwork with others.”