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Department of Mutant Vehicles (DMV)

DMV Cover Page with Nick Rice's car
Fire Rod by Nick Rice – Photo: Tripod

The mission of the Saguaro Man Department of Mutant Vehicles is to enable Saguaro Man participants to share their Mutant Vehicle creations with the community. The Saguaro Man Department of Mutant Vehicles (DMV) must balance the desire to have vehicles at the event with the community standards of keeping Saguaro Man a walking-friendly event, maintaining a level of safety, and adhering to the stipulations of our land use permit. Simply put, the DMV is there to make it possible for the Mutant Vehicles to be at Saguaro Man. If there were no DMV, there would be no mobile art at Saguaro Man. The Saguaro Man DMV staff has the responsibility to process Mutant Vehicles registrations and or inspect Mutant Vehicles on-site.

Mutant Vehicle Criteria

Please read all of the information on this page before you submit an application for your mutant vehicle

When you are ready, please contact

Flintstones Canopysaurus by Matt Meanders – Photo: Pam S

To be eligible for a Mutant Vehicle license, you must satisfy ALL of the following criteria:

There are five main points the DMV considers when reviewing your vehicle.

  • Level of Mutation / Visual Presentation
    • Mutate or create your vehicle to the point that it more interesting than a street or stock vehicle
    • The mutation should aim to be visually compelling, providing “wow factor” for the other participants of the event
    • We are dedicated to licensing vehicles from projects of all budget levels, not just the most expensively built ones
  • Interactivity
    • Interactivity is defined as an opportunity for any BRC citizen to participate in some activity offered by your vehicle. The theme and/or size of the vehicle is what’s considered here. Do you entertain a crowd? Have plenty of room for riders? Provide a service to the community via your vehicle? Include an interactive element?
  • Safety – The safe operation of a Mutant Vehicle at the event is the Registrant’s responsibility. Depending on the size and style of your vehicle, some or all of the following may apply:
    • The vehicle must be able to maintain a steady speed of five MPH (the speed limit in Black Rock City) or less.
    • Brakes must be in good working order.
    • The vehicle should have sturdy side railings and stair railings. There should be no sharp or protruding objects.
    • Having a fire extinguisher and First Aid kit on board is highly recommended.
    • The vehicle should have a safe access area and procedures for loading and unloading passengers. Never allow people to board or jump off while the vehicle is moving.
    • Due to risk of permanent damage to eyesight, please do not use lasers on your art cars
    • Vehicles with trailers must have barriers protecting the space between the vehicle and the trailer.  For details on trailer safety requirements, please see the section on safety below.
    • The DMV may decline a license to a vehicle if there is a demonstrable safety concern.
  • Lighting – There are two fundamental requirements for Mutant Vehicle night illumination.
    • SAFETY: First and foremost, people need to be able to see you and you need to be able to see them. The vehicle must include front head lights and the front, rear, AND sides must be lit. All vehicle extremities must be lit. Any trailer hitch or dangerous area of the vehicle must be lit. Anywhere someone would walk, step, or climb on your vehicle should be lit, especially stairs and ladders.
    • RADICAL ILLUMINATION: The visual presentation of your vehicle should be at least as stimulating at night as it is during the day, if not even more so.
    • Level 1: Normal car stereo / average living room (under 90dB at 30 ft) – Ideal when driving near theme camps and open camping.
    • Level 2: Dance Club or Theater (90dB and up at under 100ft) when in the open areas.
  • Sound – Mutant vehicle sound systems can be classified into two levels. You can reach out to the Sound team if you would like to baseline your sound and figure out what is OK.
Bunny Hopper by TGaps – Photo: Pam S

Driving Rules

  • Pre-register your Mutant Vehicle. Pre-Registration will certainly streamline your arrival process and ensure that you will (assuming your application is accepted) be able to drive your vehicle at the event.
  • Mutant vehicles must follow the road directions at all times.
  • Abide by all applicable federal and Arizona state laws, including all open container laws (no open containers within reach of the driver)
  • Drive at a speed of 5 mph or less
  • Give the right of way to pedestrians, bicycles, and emergency services vehicles.
  • Follow the reasonable and applicable vehicle laws for road safety – and go slow…….
  • Stop immediately upon being hailed by any Saguaro Man Staff member, Heliotrope Ranger, or law enforcement officer.
  • No driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • No driving during rain or snow —— (just saying).
  • Vehicles for night use must be Fully & Radically Illuminated.
  • Obey sound policies – All Mutant Vehicles must adhere to the established Saguaro Man Sound Policy and db Levels.
  • Mutant Vehicles that have more than one level will not be allowed to travel towards the Saguaro Man gate due to the sharp curves on the road.
  • All moving Mutant Vehicles must ensure that ALL passengers are seated.
  • Create a clear field of vision for the operator, including rear and side mirrors.
  • Constant idling is discouraged for participant safety.
  • All Mutant Vehicles should be free of any leaks.
  • Mutant Vehicle with attached trailers will not be allowed due to our small event footprint and road size.
  • Have a safe access area and procedures for loading and unloading passengers.
  • Clearly display the Mutant Vehicle license in a location specified by the Saguaro Man DMV staff.
  • Failure to adhere to the Mutant Vehicle / Saguaro Man requirements and rules, the vehicle(s) in question will not allowed to drive within the event.
  • Mutant Vehicle owner assumes full responsibility for use at Saguaro Man, including all passengers, and any additional drivers of that Mutant Vehicle.

DMV Licensing

  • DAY licenses allow Mutant Vehicles to move around Black Rock City during the daytime.
  • NIGHT licenses allow Mutant Vehicles to move around Black Rock City at night. To receive a night license, Mutant Vehicles must be FULLY and RADICALLY illuminated (see above).
  • Some vehicles may receive both a DAY and a NIGHT license.
  • Trailer licenses are required for any trailers that are attached to Mutant Vehicles. These are licensed separately from the Vehicle.
Callioplaya – by Ray “Rockin Ray” Maiorana, and John “JB” Bittner – Photo: Sadi

Flame Effects

Mutant Vehicles that incorporate flame effects must include flame effects information in their Mutant Vehicle application and also must be inspected on-playa and be granted a Flame Effects license from the Fire Arts Safety Team before the flame effects can be operated. Please include details of your flame effect when you submit your application. Use of flame effects will be permitted after on-site inspection.

The use of Flame Effects within the City streets can present a greater risk than they do on the open area. As your mutant Vehicle passes into the City and you are driving in the narrow streets you are in a new set of risks. The flames that were well overhead height in on the open areas are now at face height or even below folks standing on scaffolds, fabric, and banners can blow into the path of your flames and you are only inches away from other vehicles as you pass. Any of that sound dangerous? Well, it is! Please if your mutant vehicle has puffers please think twice about using them as you pass through the city. If your MV has a steady flame be aware of the wind blowing flammables into the flames and your proximity to things you are alongside. Any unsafe behavior of any kind will not be permitted and may affect your ability to register your MV in the future.

Flame Effects Registration

Big Willy by Ian – Photo: Kyle V

Accessibility Vehicle (AV) Permits

“Accessibility Vehicle” (AV) licenses are issued by the Saguaro Man DMV to participants with physical disabilities. Just like Mutant Vehicles, you should pre-register in order to get a license to operate a Accessibility Vehicle.

  • Registrant must provide a government-issued Disability ID, Parking Placard or Disability license plate number with the accompanying identification card (if your government, city or state provides one). The name on the card must match the applicant.
    • The reason we require a government-issued ID, Placard or License plate is that we are not in a position to gauge what does or does not constitute a physical disability. For folks with recent injuries or limited movement of a temporary nature, it has been our experience most doctors will sign off on a temporary placard in those cases for an event such as Burning Man.
    • In cases where a disability is due to an injury that happens after the registration deadline and/or is too recent to obtain a Disability Placard/ID please email for assistance.
  • A reasonable standard of safety for your vehicle and its occupants
  • Bring your vehicle to the DMV for a physical inspection
  • Permits may be denied/revoked due to
    • Safety concerns
    • Past behavior
    • Current behavior (violating driving rules at Burning Man is cause for revocation of your license, ejection of the vehicle and/or the operator from the event)
  • While decorating your vehicle is always appreciated, there is NO REQUIREMENT that a Disability Vehicle be decorated or mutated