musician and philanthropist william james adams, jr, better known as will.i.am, has joined forces with mercedes-amg to create a one-off concept car called “will.i.amg.”
the car will serve as the centerpiece of will.i.am’s latest philanthropic project, but, before we get into that, let's examine the creation itself. it's based on a mercedes-amg gt four-door and was built by west coast customs, a purveyor of multiple over-the-top one-off automobiles—you might recognize the name from mtv's "pimp my ride." this is the sixth project will.i.am has employed west coast to build for him, and it’s far more restrained than most of the far-out rides he’s had west coast put together for his personal use.
will.i.am and west coast customs reworked the amg gt’s body to convert it from four doors to two—we're thinking these must be in contention for the largest doors on any car, ever. hinged at the rear, suicide-style, they open like a pair of welcoming arms. if this were a daily driver, you’d be trapped inside after pulling into a parking spot at your local grocery store.
we don’t know what inspired the squared-off, truck-like front end clearly taken from the g-wagen, but it certainly won’t be confused with your neighbor's amg gt. the three-pointed mercedes star in the grille was replaced with the image of a bear, which symbolizes the phrase “bear witness.” it’s the name of line of limited-edition apparel and accessories that mercedes says will be available online and at its mercedes-amg experience center in miami. there’s also a six-part documentary covering the build, titled “drive” that will premiere at the 2022 cannes film festival.
the car is part of will.i.am's latest philanthropic undertaking called “the flip – innovation for purpose,” which is intended to give students from disadvantaged communities access to steam (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) education. that, in turn, will enable them to grow the skills needed to earn future tech-focused jobs that help them lift themselves, their families, and their communities out of poverty.
the rapper/song writer/singer and founding member of the black eyed peas explained his desire to build a special mercedes this way: “i grew up in a ghetto. i grew up with hip-hop. i watched legendary hip-hop artists rap about mercedes, so it was always a dream to own a mercedes. for a lot of inner-city kids, owning a mercedes is a symbol of progress and advancing out of struggle.”
the flip program is new, but it’s actually one of many steam educational initiatives supported by the musician’s i.am/angel foundation, which has been performing these good works for more than a decade. the organization supports and funds students in underserved communities including will.i.am’s home town, the boyle heights neighborhood of los angeles. the support enables participation in courses focused on robotics, information systems, computer coding, computer-aided design, and art. the foundation has also supplied both after-school tutoring and scholarships that have helped inner-city students attend and graduate from college. the foundation has raised millions of dollars of funding for these programs.
at this point, will.i.am and mercedes have said only that all the activities surrounding the will.i.amg will benefit the efforts of the singer’s i.am/angel foundation “to help build a steam-ready talent pool that will lift families and communities out of poverty.” when it comes to custom cars, there are as many opinions of what looks cool as there are people. but no one can argue with the good intentions, positive outcomes, and hopes for the future that this one represents.