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Wednesday, September 10, 2014


It’s quite certain that when Elton John and Bernie Taupin penned the song "Sweet Painted Lady" on the "Yellow Brick Road" album, they had no idea they would inspire one of the most interesting and noticeable vehicles driving around the roads of Portland these days.

A vehicle that looks more like a prop for Portlandia is the brainchild of local humanitarian Frank Etxaniz and Lucky Limousine and Towncar Service. The “painted lady” limousine is providing a colorful avenue to raise money for local charities as well as transportation for children and families to local hospitals. 

Etxaniz is the founder of a couple different charities. In 2005, he founded Children’s Healing Art Project (CHAP), a nonprofit organization that uses art to assist in the healing process for critically ill, disabled and chronically ill children as well as their parents.

He had his own painted car that resonated with the kids and when he began a year-long tour to meet with families from the previous seven years, it began a new quest to find its replacement.

Isabella, a 13-year-old cancer survivor, generated the motivation for the Portland artist to create his newest nonprofit venture, Kids-Heal. Kids-Heal works to improve the emotional, physical and creative health of all children. It uses the art to illustrate and educate about healthcare issues. 

“Where is your painted car?" asked Isabella when she first saw Extaniz, who had not seen the her since she went into remission and had her hair grow back. When told that the car was in the scrap heap and that he could get a school bus to paint, she responded with the idea that launched the Painted Lady in to her current career in the Portland area. 

“We don’t want a bus, we want a limo," Isabella said. 

That’s when Extaniz partnered with Heather Killough, the owner of Lucky Limousine. He had worked with her on a number of other Portland-area charities and was a founding donor for CHAP. Killough was happy to provide one of the company’s seven passenger limousines for a total transformation.

Lucky’s chief operations officer, Al Jochim, said Killough was the perfect partner. He said she is unbelievably gracious and combined with the fun element and that it was a great opportunity. 

Last year, Extaniz delivered the limousine to the students of Baker City School gallons of paint, brushes, and provided two days of fun to create their own art project. Over 350 students created the transformation that features a rainbow of colors and designs.

Attention Getting Is A Huge Understatement

The use of the limo for the Baker High School prom was auctioned off with proceeds going to Kids-Heal. It was the first of many runs in the Painted Lady that has generated thousands of dollars for charity. 

The limousine is back at Lucky Limousine in Portland and has been used for a vast array of events and donations. Lucky was on the ice bucket challenge beneficiary bandwagon early providing the use of the limo as well as a partnership with El Gaucho Steakhouse for an auction item at the ALS fundraiser. It helped generate a lot of interest and a great deal of money for the organization.

Besides ALS, there have been a number of other organizations and charities that have benefited from the use of the painted limo. It is also available to rent.

It was a huge hit during prom season and one of the main reasons to rent a limo, as high school students want to have fun and be noticed.

Being Noticed Is Not A Problem With This Car 

“We need to create a Where’s Waldo sort of social media site for the painted limo. It generates so many comments, smiles and, yes, some laughs," Jochim said. "Whenever we take it to an event or concert, people love it and take pictures of it.”

He also stated that most of the proceeds from the rental of the limousine go to helping provide transportation to families needing to get to medical appointments as well as “fun” rides for children’s charities. He said it has become a real sense of pride within the city’s largest luxury transportation provider.

To book the Painted Lady check it out on the website at  www.besolucky.com


Brad Boyer is owner of Carcierge, a car concierge company providing expert assistance on anything car-related. He also co-hosts Test Miles on 101.1 FM KXL on Sundays, and is a founding member of the Northwest Auto Press Association. You can email him your car-related questions at [email protected] 


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