The incident began at about 1:30 a.m. in the area just north of Garfield High School when a neighbor woke up to the sound of fire crackling and burning.
The neighbor called 911 and when firefighters arrived they found a car fully ablaze.
After the flames were extinguished, crews noticed something written on the car's trunk - racially charged slurs and graffiti - that lead them to treat the arson as a hate crime.
The car, a 1970s-era Cadillac DeVille, was destroyed in the fire, with the top caved in. Damage was estimated at $20,000.
Other than the neighbor who called 911, there were no witnesses. No suspects have been identified.
Investigators interviewed the car's owner and combed the area, looking for any evidence they can.