Cadillac Ranch (Amarillo, Texas)

Cadillac Ranch

There are a few things that make Amarillo, Texas a special place, and chiefly among them is definitely Cadillac Ranch.  The internationally recognized roadside attraction and art instillation was created by San Francisco residents Chip Lord, Doug Michels, and Hudson Marquez of the Ant Farm art collective in 1974.  Cadillac Ranch has become one of the most popular attractions along the famed and historic U.S. Route 66 that winds its way across a large section of the United States, and a pilgrimage site for people that search out the strange and obscure attractions around the world.

Cadillac Ranch, with its ten cars nose-diving into the ground has over its lifetime become one of the most famous roadside attractions in the world.  The constantly changing paint, and the slow, steady deterioration of the iron giants has evolved the artwork into a piece of the environment in a natural but surreal way.  The half-buried Cadillacs range in year from 1949 to 1963, and highlight the golden age of Cadillac production with its long sleek lines and high-rising tail fins.  The 1948-49 fastback coupe model was the most expensive car included in the sculpture at the time but it was the 1957, with its large fins that was the most difficult for the designers to find.

All of the cars have been painted thousands of times (probably tens of thousands of times), and the constantly morphing graffiti has become an important part of the sculpture, both keeping it alive, and keeping it modern, even though its actually more than 40 years old.  The constantly changing face of the art installation also does quite a lot to insure that it will continue to be a tourist destination in and of itself for the foreseeable future.  The location (which is not the original), gives a sense that there is more of the country left to discover, and that there are still places to be isolated in the United States without straying too far from the highway.

Cadillac Ranch Facts

  • The 1949 model was the last car purchased but the first car buried.
  • The Cadillacs were buried in order from oldest to newest.
  • While the cars would fetch quite a bit of money today, they were purchased for an average of $200 at the time.
  • The Cadillac Ranch is in an active wheat pasture and cows are free to graze nearby.
  • Just four days after the Cadillac Ranch celebrated its 40th anniversary, owner Stanley Marsh 3 passed away at 76.
  • The wheels have been welded to the chassis to prevent them from being stolen.
  • The members of Ant Farm had to move from San Francisco to Amarillo for several months to plan, purchase cars, survey the property, and install the finished artwork.
  • All of the cars were first displayed with their original pain jobs.
  • In June of 2003 the cars were painted flat black to honor the passing of a founding member of the Ant Farm.