Story of the Week

Posted: 06.20.2016
Jay Koka's automotive illustrations have inspired generations
By Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher
Images courtesy of Jay Koka


From those great-looking Ferrari models to rare Cords, Jay Koka has an impressive resume of masterful automotive paintings that have been seen and appreciated by people all over the world.

Koka's automotive career started many years ago and he has been the featured artist and poster artist for many international automotive events.

Koka, who was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1950, would later move to Canada in 1956. He was educated within a great school system and had enjoyed the successful corporate career during his early days in marketing along with becoming a computer expert. In addition to his art career, Koka is also an Internet technology pioneer.

An automotive enthusiast along with being an avid super-bike rider, Koka has painted on canvas his works of art into a great and successful career of beautiful automotive illustrations that many people have thoroughly enjoyed including me.

In 1998, Koka, had pioneered a dramatic stylistic change that marked the beginning of a new approach within the world of automotive illustrations. In 1999, Koka again made a complete about-turn in his artistic roots creating highly realistic and superbly detailed painting concepts. Koka painted great images of trains and airplanes, and with the great works of the automobile, he would add a French Classics along with American Classic images which most people have come to admire.

Over the years, Koka has been the featured artist for many major and exciting auto-related events such as the Pebble Beach Concours de’ Elegance, the Concours de’ Elegance of the Eastern United States and most recently the EyesOn Design event held in Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan. Koka is also a member of the Automotive Fine Arts Society, which has become a great honor for him.


When one thinks of Jay Koka, the first thought that comes to mind is that he is a genuinely nice guy. The second thought is that he truly has gasoline in his veins that is reflected in his great looking automotive illustrations.

Jay once said, “Although I'm a lifelong motor-head, my interest in automotive fine art is in the context in which the automobile exists rather than the depiction of the automobile itself. The interplay of the vehicle and its environment and its human operators is to me the most worthwhile pursuit of fine art.”

Koka's beautiful art work is collected by private and public audiences worldwide. I would also like to mention that his resume also includes 10 official posters for the Ferrari Club which is very impressive.


Over the years, Koka has received many great awards including the prestigious Peter Helck Award and the Lincoln awards at Pebble Beach.

Koka’s 2006 official poster for the Pebble Bach Concours de’ Elegance won not only an Award of Excellence at Meadow Brook but also “The Lincoln Award” at Pebble Beach. In 2012, Jay Koka was awarded the coveted “Peter Helck Award” at the annual AFAS premier exhibition at Pebble Beach.

As Koka's journey would continue, his work was featured for nearly four months at the National Automobile Musuem in Reno, Nevada; a display that received great and outstanding reviews from the public.


In 2015, Koka returned as featured and poster artist for Michigan’s own Concours de’ Elegance of the America’s at St. John’s which turned out to be a great honor.

More recently, Koka was commissioned as the poster artist for the 2016 EyesOn Design which was unveiled on Feb. 9. The beautiful automobile that is introduced is the “Lost Cord” which is an exclusive and powerful automotive illustration.


In conclusion, Jay Koka's art illustrations will always be a wonderful and much enjoyed part of our automotive history and heritage.

A special thanks to Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher, for contributing this story to the MotorCities Story of the Week Program. 

For further information on photos please visit or email Please do not republish the story and/or photographs without permission of MotorCities National Heritage Area. 

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