AMARILLO, Tex. – There are no cattle or cowboys at the Cadillac Ranch. But there are 10 classic Cadillacs.
The Cadillac Ranch is an automotive art exhibit and American cultural commentary adjacent to Interstate 40 just west of Amarillo, Texas.
The “ranch” is the creation of local helium magnate, oil tycoon, rancher, art patron, media mogul and “merry prankster” Stanley Marsh III. The installation was done by a group of architecturally oriented artists from San Francisco, Calif., who called themselves the Ant Farm.
The “ranch” first was planted in 1974, but as the city grew the exhibit was transplanted in 1997 to its present location a couple of miles to the west.
The exhibit features 10 classic Cadillacs, planted all in a row, each car nose-down toward the west with its tail fins pointing toward the eastern sky. Each car is planted at the same angle as the walls of the Cheops Pyramid in Egypt.
The cars in this unusual automotive collection include a 1949 Club Coupe (Sedanette), a 1950 Series 62 sedan, a 1954 Coupe de Ville, a 1956 Series 62 sedan, a 1957 sedan, a 1958 sedan, a 1959 coupe, a 1960 “flat top” sedan, a 1962 four-window sedan and a 1963 sedan.
There’s no admission fee to enter the property, which is in the midst of working farmland. You simply exit the highway and park along the frontage road, then walk through a gate and follow a well-worn path a few hundred feet to the cars.
It’s all within easy view from the highway, but you have to walk among the vehicles to truly experience them and to see the way they’ve been painted and repainted and painted again.
In fact, you can bring your own paint and add your own artistic touches to the vehicles.
As you walk toward the Caddys, you’ll probably hear the sound of BBs rattling around inside a paint spray can as someone gets ready to add his or her marks to the cars.
“Over the decades, a lucky handful of offbeat attractions have grown in recognition and stature, celebrated frequently in magazine photo essays, in calendars, as backdrops for music videos and movies,” notes RoadsideAmerica.com, which proclaims itself to be the online guide to offbeat tourist attractions. “These Great Monuments are rhapsodized as the embodiment of American hopes and dreams, folly and failure, art and commerce, materialism and spiritualism. Professional authors and screenwriters know a pre-baked, easy-to-get symbol when they see it.”
The latest of that lot was the artists and producers of the animated movie, Cars, which used the Cadillac Ranch as inspiration for the mountain range featured as a backdrop to the town of Radiator Springs.
Cadillac Ranch was created as an artistic commentary on American culture and Cadillac’s role as an automotive status symbol. Today, it continues to create conversation among those who drive past and to provide a place to stop for reflection – or simply a place to add a personal “Kilroy was here” to those who walk among the cars, parked like tipping dominos, or tipped gravestones, on the Texas ranchland.
For much more information on the ranch, its creators and the cars, including details on the cars, how they were acquired and, in some cases, for what prices, visit www.libertysoftware.be/cml/cadillacranch/crmain.htm.
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* Images courtesy of Larry Edsall and iZoom.com.