The Cadillac Ranch, copyright
by Rik Gruwez,
Ant Farm's Cadillac Ranch
have been perpetuated about the origin of the
Cadillac Ranch, the most popular of which is the one I heard
growing up in the Texas
Panhandle. As the story went, an eccentric
millionaire would buy one Cadillac after another and when it was time
to buy a new one, he would have the old one buried nose first on his
land. However, the truth is, the
Cadillac Ranch was a planned artistic endeavor.
Yes, Texas millionaire Stanley
Marsh, 3 was an eccentric. He was also said to be very down to
earth, quickly disregarding the "III” as too pretentious and using "3"
instead. In 1973, Marsh invited a San Francisco artists’
collective called the Ant Farm to help him in the creation of a unique
work of art for his sprawling ranch just west of Amarillo.
set about acquiring ten used Cadillac's, ranging in model years from
1948 to 1963. Built along the tattered remains of historic
the cars were meant to represent the "Golden Age” of American
automobiles. Most of the cars were purchased from junk yards,
and averaged about $200. The cars were then buried nose-down,
facing west along the old highway. Those that could run, were
driven into the half-burial holes, the rest were hoisted in. In 1974
the project was completed and in no time at all, visitors began to
come from all over the world, leaving their mark on the
ever-thickening graffiti covered cars.
At first, the
cars displayed their original paint jobs – turquoise, banana yellow,
gold, and sky blue, but barely was the monument complete, when people
were scratching or painting their names in the cars. Over time,
vandals and souvenir hounds smashed the windows, made off with all the
chrome, radios, speakers and even some of the doors. The wheels
have since been welded to the axles to prevent more theft. However, Marsh still says "We think it looks better every year.”
In 1997, the
Cadillac Ranch was exhumed and replanted about two miles to the
west, in order to escape the encroaching city of Amarillo. Under Marsh’s orders, even the old site’s trash and clutter was
gathered from the old location and spread around the new location. Otherwise the monument remains the same (and, ever changing) since it
visitors to visit the Cadillac Ranch and seemingly didn't mind the constant graffiti added
to the cars.
However, Marsh had many other "artistic
endeavors" in the Amarillo,
one of which is the placement of eccentric and odd "road signs" all
over the city. As to these colorful signs, he did mind if
they are mutilated or stolen. (You can read more about Marsh's Road
Signs by clicking
True Texan in form, Marsh had more than a few run-ins with the law over his brand of
enforcement. At one point, it was said that he penned an 18-year old
boy with a hammer inside his chicken coop, when the boy was caught
red-handed with one of his signs.
Cadillac Ranch has been repainted many times. In May, 2002, the
cars were restored to their original colors. In June, 2003 the cars
were again painted, this time in flat black, in response to the passing of
the founding member of the Ant Farm.
today may think the burial of these now much sought after collector’s
items is a sacrilege. But in 1974, these cars were not popular and
most of them were bought from junk yards at an average price of just
$200.00. Had they not been used for the ranch "sculpture,” they
would have wound up in the metal crusher.
This monument was built as a public sculpture
and visitors are encouraged to participate in it. So, it’s ok if you
take your can of Krylon with you, leaving your name or an inspiring
message, which will, no doubt, be erased by another message soon. Photographs may be taken at the site, however, any commercial exploitation
in advertising or product promotion is expressly prohibited without
written permission from the artists. The
Cadillac Ranch has appeared on numerous TV shows, magazines, and newspaper
Stanley March, 3
died in June, 2014 at the age of 76.
The Cadillac Ranch is located west of
Amarillo on old
Route 66, south of I-40 between exits 60 and