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The Cadillac Ranch & Quirky Amarillo

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Cadillac Ranch Amarillo, Texas

The Cadillac Ranch, copyright by Rik Gruwez, Ant Farm's Cadillac Ranch


Several myths 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 Amarillo, Texas 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.

The group set about acquiring ten used Cadillac's, ranging in model years from 1948 to 1963. Built along the tattered remains of historic Route 66, 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 was erected.


Marsh encouraged 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 HERE!)

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.

Throughout the years, the 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.

Some people 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 accounts.


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 62.



Continued Next Page




Stanley Marsh at the Cadillac Ranch

Stanley Marsh on the Cadillac Ranch in

1981, copyright by Rik Gruwez, Ant Farm's Cadillac Ranch


Enhanced photo of the Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas

If the Cadillac Ranch is already quirky enough, we made it a little more so.

Photo and enhancements by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

This image available for photographic prints HERE!


Cadillac Ranch Amarillo Texas

Cadillac Ranch David Alexander, May, 2004

This image available for photographic prints HERE!


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