History of the Nautilus X
by Captain Nemo

In 1984 the MAN CORPORATION in North Carolina assembled this coach, which was purchased as part of the new fleet of articulated transit buses by San Francisco MUNI. It was put into service for 17 years, roaming the streets of San Francisco. Then in the later half of 2001 a new fleet of articulated buses was purchased to replace the then aging fleet of MAN buses. Coach #6020 (then servicing the 38 Geary line), which had tirelessly provided rides for countless patrons, was retired from active public transit duty in March of 2002. It was the very last coach of the MUNI MAN line to be decommissioned, and was considered for inclusion in MUNI's historic bus fleet. However, it was not selected and was scheduled to be sold at auction, dismantled, scrapped, and shredded along with the rest of the retired hulks.

Incidentally, prior to this time I had been working on a different large mobile art project called Draka the Dragon at the 2000 & 2001 Burning Man Festival. During my last year on this project I had an intimate artist's vision. The subsequent year's event (2002) would be a "water world" theme later named "Floating World". I imagined a submarine like art bus that could provide tours of the art at the event while also providing a safe and practical means to travel around the festival. At the heart of this creative vision was this type of "articulated urban bus" vehicle, which would be called the 'DSV Nautilus X'.

In May of 2002, in a public auction I purchased this last 60' articulated MAN coach #6020 from SF MUNI. This type of mobile art vehicle (referred to as "Mutant Art Vehicles" by the Burning Man organizers and community) is a true community mobile art project in transit. My initial intent was to include local bay area artists, and it has expanded to include artists from around the world. Each has collaborated and created their artistic visions, functionally embedded onto the Nautilus interior and exterior hull. Our successful maiden voyage was to the Burning Man Festival in Nevada on August 26, 2002. The creative efforts of the artists, as well as the dedicated crew have continued relentlessly to this day.

We've driven the Nautilus X to San Francisco on several occasions to participate in public relations events such as "Heat the Streets", and the Black Rock Arts Foundation "Arts Carnival" at the Hayes Green Park.

"Captain Nemo, has always had community building at the heart of his undertaking in creating and traveling with his great, mythical conveyance - the Nautilus X. He and his crew have offered wonderful support to the Black Rock Arts Foundation (BRAF), helping us in our efforts to inspire art, community, and civic participation. The appearance of the Nautilus X at BRAF's Community Art Carnival at the Hayes Green in July 2005 created a central draw for members of the surrounding neighborhoods, as well as members of the Burning Man community, and was a very important element in making that day a great success. Scott and his crew donated their time and underwrote the cost of the Nautilus X's appearance at the Community Art Carnival, as they have for other events to help raise funds for BRAF. Scott brings joy and encouragement to everyone he encounters, and I truly appreciate his substantial efforts on our behalf!"
Leslie Pritchett
Executive Director
Black Rock Arts Foundation

My crew (an assortment of bay area citizens) and I have spent countless hours safely operating and working onboard the Nautilus. Annually, the Nautilus' interior and mechanical systems are cleaned and maintained as required, signage and exterior murals are painted as needed, and new additions are created and installed. During operational periods we safely drive and crew the Nautilus to various events. All this effort is delivered via this project as our gift to the community.

Click the images to bring up the periscope

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Images from our first away mission to the bus graveyard, where we collected spare parts and bits to create with.



Dive into some of Joe's starry spacescapes.