Cadillac Ranch

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other uses, see Cadillac Ranch (disambiguation).
Cadillac Ranch
Brightly painted Cadillacs, all in a row
Underside of a Cadillac

Cadillac Ranch is a public art installation and sculpture in Amarillo, Texas, U.S. It was created in 1974 by Chip Lord, Hudson Marquez and Doug Michels, who were a part of the art group Ant Farm. It consists of what were (when originally installed during 1974) either older running used or junk Cadillac automobiles, representing a number of evolutions of the car line (most notably the birth and death of the defining feature of mid twentieth century Cadillacs: the tailfins) from 1949 to 1963, half-buried nose-first in the ground, at an angle corresponding to that of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.[1]


Chip Lord and Doug Michels were architects; Marquez was an art student at Tulane. According to Chip Lord, “Ant Farm was founded as an alternative architectural practice, kind of an experiment in an attempt to subvert normal corporate ways of doing architecture.”[2]

According to Marquez, “Chip and I were living in the mountains north of San Francisco, and there was a book meant for kids left in a bar near where we lived. It was called ‘The Look of Cars,’[3] and there was something on the rise and fall of the tail fin. I didn’t have a lot to do, so I just sorta drew it up. I’ve always loved the Cadillacs.”[2]

The group claims to have been given a list of eccentric millionaires in 1972 in San Francisco, identifying Marsh among those who might be able to fund one of their projects. Marsh's response began "It’s going to take me awhile to get used to the idea of the Cadillac Ranch. I’ll answer you by April Fool’s Day. It’s such an irrelevant and silly proposition that I want to give it all my time and attention so I can make a casual judgement of it."[4]

Stanley Marsh[edit]

Stanley Marsh III, the eccentric millionaire who funded Cadillac Ranch and other whimsical public art projects, was born on January 31,1938. He inherited millions from his grandfather after he struck it rich during the Texas oil boom during the early 1900's. After graduating from Amarillo High School, he attended the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, where he received his master's in economic history. After university, he returned to Amarillo to run the family business. During the 1970's, his public art works began to draw attention after he established various public art works, which was later immortalized in the Bruce Springsteen song "Cadillac Ranch". His fun-loving, crazy-uncle public persona was tarnished when he was charged with molesting underage boys. After ten civil lawsuits and fourteen criminal charges, he was indicted on six counts of sexual performances by a child, four counts of sexual assault on a child, and two counts of indecency with a child. In the midst of legal trouble, Marsh was incapacitated after a series of strokes at the age of 75. Marsh died in Amarillo on June 17, 2014, at the age of 76. [5] [6] [7]


Cadillac Ranch was originally located in a wheat field, but in 1997, the installation was quietly moved by a local contractor to a location two miles (three kilometers) to the west, to a cow pasture along Interstate 40, in order to place it farther from the limits of the growing city.[8] Both sites belonged to the local millionaire Stanley Marsh 3, the patron of the project.[9] Marsh was well known in the city for his longtime patronage of artistic endeavors including the "Cadillac Ranch", Floating Mesa, "Amarillo Ramp" a work of well known land artist Robert Smithson, and a series of fake traffic signs throughout the city known collectively as the "Dynamite Museum".[10] As of 2013, Stanley Marsh 3 did not own the Cadillac Ranch;[11] ownership appears to have been transferred to a family trust some time before his June 2014 death.

Cadillac Ranch is visible from the highway, and though located on private land, visiting it (by driving along a frontage road and entering the pasture by walking through an unlocked gate) is tacitly encouraged. In addition, writing graffiti on or otherwise spray-painting the vehicles is now encouraged, and the vehicles, which have long since lost their original colors, are wildly decorated. The cars are periodically repainted various colors (once white for the filming of a television commercial, another time pink in honor of Stanley's wife Wendy's birthday, and yet another time all 10 cars were painted flat black to mark the passing of Ant Farm artist Doug Michels, or simply to provide a fresh canvas for future visitors). In 2012 they were painted rainbow colors to commemorate gay pride day. The cars were briefly "restored" to their original colors by the motel chain Hampton Inn in a public relations-sponsored series of Route 66 landmark restoration projects. The new paint jobs and even the plaque commemorating the project lasted less than 24 hours without fresh graffiti.

In popular culture[edit]

"Cadillac Ranch" is the name of a Bruce Springsteen song on his 1980 album The River, later covered by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.[1]

The cover of Supercharge album, by the band of the same name, depicts the Cadillac Ranch.[12]

The band Atomic Tom filmed a video at Cadillac Ranch in November 2011.[13]

Pixar's 2006 animated film Cars depicts a Cadillac Range as a mountain formation; the film's credits directly acknowledge the Ant Farm collective and the Cadillac Ranch. In a case of art-imitating-art-imitating-art, that image from the film Cars has been constructed as a centerpiece of Cars Land at Disney California Adventure Park.

In the final scene of the King of the Hill episode "Hank Gets Dusted," Hank Hill has his father's Cadillac, which he cherished growing up, pushed front first into a hole along with other Cadillacs to reference the Cadillac Ranch.[14]

It also serves as the setting for the video of "Honky Tonk Stomp" by country duo Brooks & Dunn, which was the duo's last video.

A song by the same name by country music artist Chris LeDoux. Written by Chuck Jones and Chris Waters, off of his album Whatcha Gonna Do With A Cowboy. Duet with Garth Brooks. The song reached #18 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart and #16 on the Canadian RPM Country Tracks.

See also[edit]

Disney's "Cadillac Range" (background)


External links[edit]

  • Cadillac Ranch - Information about Journey across America through The Mother Road - Route 66, Route 395, Cadillac Ranch and Americas National Park. Maps, Articles, Local weather, Event calendar, News, Pictures and important information for travellers like itinerary, Identity papers and travel cost.

Coordinates: 35°11′14″N 101°59′13″W / 35.187221°N 101.987041°W / 35.187221; -101.987041