The Cadillac Ranch
Facts, Trivia and useful information
See our Cadillac Ranch location map.
It is free of charge and open 24⁄7. Park your car next to the South Frontage and walk the 200 yards to the Cadillac Ranch across the field.
View of the "Caddy Ranch" or Cadillac Ranch
Cadillac Ranch: Some figures
- 10 cars are buried in a single file.
- East to West, they are aligned with an east to west orientation.
- Cadillacs, all cars are Cadillac models, from a 1948 to a 1963 (some say 1964) model.
- Relocated, the cars were relocated 2 miles west of their original position in 1997.
Cadillac Ranch, a song by Bruce Springsteen
There is a well-known song that mentions the Cadillac Ranch. It is a track in the 1980 album, "The River".
Bruce Springsteen, contemporary American songwriter and performer, wrote this Rock song as an allegory of death and the impermanence of life.
The track uses the Cadillac Ranch as a metaphor for death, as the song itself deals with the inevitability of death. The Cadillacs, once glamorous symbols of wealth and luxury are now just car bodies stuck in the ground, rusting away, glory gone.
Where to Stay
Accommodation close to the Cadillac Ranch in nearby Amarillo: There are plenty of hotels in the town
Motels and Hotels in Amarillo:
>> Book your Hotel in Amarillo
Map of The Cadillac Ranch on Route 66 Texas
Static Map showing Route 66 and Cadillac Ranch
Map of Route 66 and the Cadillac Ranch and neigboring Amarillo, Texas.
Pale Blue: Historic Route 66 alignment; Red line: I-40 where it overlaps the old alignment.
Black: Jericho Gap section of US highway 66. Blue: Original alignment of US 66 between Amarillo and Conway.
Display Cadillac Ranch Map
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All About the Cadillac Ranch
Cadillac Ranch - Access
I-40 Exit 60, along South frontage road 4.4 mi east of Bushland USGS 35.187276, -101.986898
Reaching the Cadillac Ranch
Historic U.S. Route 66, the Mother Road, passes right in front of the Cadillac Ranch.
Directions: Map with directions. From downtown Amarillo, (0 mi.) on Amarillo Blvd. and Pierce St. (US 87) take a left, bridge over railroad and (1 miles) take a right onto SE 6th Ave. (TX-279) Go straight, it becomes SW 6th Ave., underpass (2.3 mi.) and change of course of 6th Ave. (2.9 miles) then keep west, through the Historic Sixth Street District. Take a left onto Bushland Ave (3.8 miles), which runs towards the SW, passes the Golf Course and passes under Bell St. (5 mi.). After the Underpass, take a left onto W. Amarillo Blvd. (I-40 Buss), and pass the Veteran's Hospital.
The road curves softly until crossing Coulter ST. (5.8 miles), adopting a westward direction. After crossing TX-335 (7.5 mi.) it reaches Soucy, passes in front of the Historic Helium Plant (8.5 miles) and before reaching the "S" curve under the old railway line, the old alignment takes a right (9 mi.) onto Indian Hill Rd.
Stick to Amarillo Blvd. and exit at Hope Rd. (10 miles), take a right along the South frontage Rd. and reach the Ranch (11.5 mi.).
What is it?
Buried 1948 Cadillac, A. Whittall.
The Cadillac Ranch
The Amarillo Cadillac Ranch (also known as the Caddy Ranch), is a public art work, created in 1974 exhibited in open ranchland which is used for farming and breeding cattle.
It is the creation of a group of artists from San Francisco, known as the Ant Farm, and was sponsored by Texas millionaire Stanley Marsh 3.
Marsh wanted a modern art work to perplex the local Amarilloans and the artists proposed a tribute to the evolution of the Cadillac tailfin.
This "work of art" consists of a group of 10 Cadillac cars buried nose-down in the ground, so that they can show off their tailfins, with an east to west alignment.
Each car belongs to a different model, from 1948 to 1963.
The artists: Ant Farm
Chip Lord (b. 1944) and Doug Michels (1943 - 2003) founded this media-based collective in San Francisco, in 1968. They were trying to create a group that could express their non-orthodox views on architecture, design and media. It was the Heyday of pop-art and counterculture.
The collective would incorporate Curtis Schreier and occasionally Douglas Hurr and Hudson Marquez.
They worked on media events, graphic arts, performances and videos in which they combined political criticism, irreverence with provocative pop culture.
They produced not only the Texas Cadillac Ranch, but also Media Burn (1975) in which they taped a Cadillac crashing into a wall built with TV sets that were set on fire.
Ant Farm undertook large scale projects that incorporated iconic elements of American culture, especially the kitsch, as seen in the tailfin exhibit of buried Cadillacs in Amarillo.
They recorded these "cultural happenings" on video and their work has been shown around the world: Haifa Museum, Israel, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Musee d'Art Moderne et Contemporain, Strasbourg, France, and Kunsthaus Zurich, Switzerland, just to mention a few sites.
A fire gutted their studio (Pier 40 in San Francisco) in 1978, and shortly after they disbanded.
The sponsor: Stanley Marsh 3
Texas businessman Stanley Marsh 3 (1938 - 2014) -who used the Arabic numeral "3" instead of the Roman numeral "III" because it seems too pretentious, was the third Stanley of the Marsh lineage. His grandfather, Stanley Marsh I, made a fortune with oil and gas development in the Texas Panhandle.
Stanley Marsh 3 was a controversial character who owned several media companies in Amarillo. Despite his support to colleges and art in its modern and non-conventional forms (he sponsored the Amarillo Ramp earthwork-art, his legacy is mixed due to a series of lawsuits that he faced in his final years.
Starting in the 1990s and continuing until 2013, he was taken to court on charges regarding alleged improper sexual behavior with teens, which were settled out of court.
One of the settlement statements (Feb. 21, 2013) mentioned that "...The Parties agree that Stanley Marsh 3 does not own the Cadillac Ranch. The Parties will have no further comment." It is likely that his estate was managed by someone else after strokes that left him incapacitated during 2012.
The Location of the Cadillac Ranch
Marsh provided the land where the cars were to be buried, on the south side of Interstate 40. Closer to Amarillo than the current location:
The current location of the Cadillac Ranch is not the original site.
Amarillo is a growing town and its suburbs are slowly pushing westwards along Interstate 40. The original site (by I-40 exit 64) was valuable property so the cars had to go.
In 1997 they were dug up and hoisted out of the ground with cranes. The new site was selected two miles west of the original location, along I-40.
The work of art
A classic landmark on Route since 1974 it consists of ten Cadillac cars buried nose-down in the ground. Its official date of inauguration was June 21, 1974.
The cars are spaced out along a stretch of 140 ft. (42 m). They face west, in a line.
The last car that the group bought was the 1949 Club Sedan model, and it was also the first car to be buried, it is the westernmost one of the group.
There is a sequence to the placement of the cars: they follow a chronological order, from the 1949 model to the newest, a 1964 (1963 Sedan DeVille according to other sources) model.
Angle of Inclination of the Cars
The cars are supposed to be tilted at exactly the same angle as that of the faces of the Great Pyramid of Khufu, in Cairo, Egypt.
The angle is usually given as 52°, but it is, according to R. Greenberg, 51° 50' and 40".
Time goes by at the Caddy Ranch
The cars were buried in their original conditions, with their normal body color (as can be seen in the book cover image).
But the cars did not remain untouched for long, shortly after 1976, visitors started painting graffiti on them and there was no way to protect the cars.
The Cadillacs were repainted over the years, with many different colors and hues. Pink was quite popular, so was red. But the graffiti would return, every time.
For those interested in seeing a sequence of old photographs of the Cadillac Ranch, we suggest this Link.
They were moved in 1997 and the effects of 23 years of water and weathering were noticeable.
Parody: the "Buggy Ranch"
I-40 Exit 96, along South frontage road before TX-207. Conway, TX. USGS 35.215561, -101.383488
It is known as the Bug Farm, Buggy Ranch and Bug Ranch and it consists of five Volkswagen "beetles" buried nose-down in the ground. They too are covered with graffiti.
View of the "Buggy Ranch" a parody of the Cadillac Ranch
Another Parody: the "Rabbit Ranch"
1107 Historic Old Route 66, Staunton, IL.
Far from Texas, in Illinois, Rich and Linda Henry own the "Henry's Rabbit Ranch", a post that deals with highway and trucking memorabilia plus a replica of a vintage gasoline station.
It has plenty of classic highway items and a selection of Route 66 collectibles and gifts.
Among the trucks and cars are a set of six cars half-buried in the ground, with four facing one way and two the other. They are almost vertical, and are of different makes.
Tailfin, the craze of post war America
Tailfins appeared as an appendage on cars shortly after the end of World War II. Streamlined aircraft were the source that inspired the fad (quite a long fad indeed; it lasted for almost 20 years).
Cadillac Tailfins: their evolution
The first model to carry a tailfin was the 1948 Cadillac. Harley Earl, a GM designer was inspired by a U.S. fighter plane, the P-38 "Lightning". It had two rounded rudders which caught Earl's eye at the Selfridge airfield in the late 1930s.
After the war, Earl incorporated them as two bulbous fins; actually they were very discreet upward humps on the tail panel. But they were a success.
Buried Cadillac and Tailfins evolution images by A. Whittall
Cadillac Database, Saunders & Franchitti.
Sonia Smith, (2014). Forty Years of the Cadillac Ranch; Texas Monthly. 08.18.14
Ralph Greenberg, 2000. The Slopes of the Egyptian Pyramids
Banner image: Dead Man's Curve, Laguna New Mexico by Perla Eichenblat.