The original idea behind this "Hidden Valley" blog was to find unusual things and interesting places in Phoenix that are in the heart of the city, but often overlooked. This weekend, we found the epitome of that in beautiful, vintage neon bunny signs at Bunny Auto Sales, Inc.
We've driven down Van Buren Street and past Bunny Auto Sales almost every day for the past year, but had never noticed the place (or its fabulous signs) until we drove by at 2 a.m. Sunday morning. From the dark shadows along Van Buren, two big, colorful bunnies shined gloriously from the window.
"Holy crap -- neon bunnies!" We quickly made a U-turn so we could park along a side street and get a closer look.
In the '60s and '70s, Van Buren Street was full of neon signs. Though the trend is now over (largely because we have more strict city ordinances regarding signs), we still appreciate the uniqueness and artistry that goes into making custom neon pieces.
Neon sign artists need not only a talent for design, but knowledge of gases and electrical currents, as well (currents running through the gases produce the bright, glowing colors of neon signs).
The neon signs at Bunny Auto Sales, Inc. are great because you can tell they were custom-made for the business -- really, who else would have a use for two giant bunnies holding up cars like serving trays?
In addition to the two larger bunny signs facing Van Buren, there's another neon sign in the window facing 14th street. This sign also depicts two bunnies, but instead of standing side-by-side, they appear to be uh, mating.
Bunny Auto Sales is a family business that was established in 1978, and the neon signs went up shortly afterward. We called and spoke briefly to the manager, Pam, who said the signs had been up for so long she didn't remember much about them. But they are now maintained by SignTec of Arizona, a local company established in 1989 that's also made neon signs for Charley's Grilled Subs and Mazatzal Casino in Payson.
It's worth walking by Bunny Auto Sales at night to see the neon signs, but there's also a custom street marquee sign, and a massive wall mural depicting a family of rabbits driving through the Arizona desert in a convertible. The whole lot is really a work of thematic art.
Bunny Auto Sales, Inc. is located at 1441 E. Van Buren Street. Call 602-258-0853 or visit www.vpnad.com/bunnyautosales for more information.