Of all the roadside attractions that dot the highways and byways of America, Cadillac Ranch may be the most iconic and most photographed… Outside Amarillo, Texas, these 10 Cadillacs, all nose-down in the dirt, have inspired everyone from travelers to movie makers to musicians (Bruce Springsteen, for example), and today, spray painting the Cadillacs is a rite of passage for any true road tripper, but if you look back over the past 41 years, the Cadillacs have gone through a lot of different looks. For starters, let’s see how the Cadillacs looked way back when they were first buried in 1974…

 

Proposed by 3 artists who called themselves the “Ant Farm” (Hudson Marquez, Chip Lord, and Doug Michels) and financed by an eccentric millionaire named Stanley Marsh 3 (He thought using Roman numerals was too pretentious), Cadillac Ranch went along relatively unnoticed for a few years.

Slowly, the Caddies became quite the roadside attraction, and the “Ant Farm” collective and Marsh 3 realized they could have a lot of fun (and support some charities) by painting and repainting the cars.


The Cadillacs at Cadillac Ranch have been painted all pink on 2 different occasions- once in 2005 to promote breast cancer awareness and once to celebrate the birthday of Marsh 3’s wife, Wendy.


Cadillac Ranch also became a big, yellow advertisement for the 24 hours in the Canyon cycling fundraiser for the Don and Sybil Harrington Cancer Center and the Lance Armstrong Foundation in 2009. They even stenciled, “LiveStrong,” across the cars.


In 2002, Ant Farm actually painted the cars back to their original colors, a project in conjunction with a larger Route 66 restoration project sponsored by Hampton Inns.

They’ve also been all white, too… for a TV commercial where Cadillac Ranch was supposed to look “ghostly.” Of course, tourists were thrilled to have 10 white, blank canvases to spray paint when the commercial shoot was finished.


The saddest color scheme, however, was in 2003 when they were all painted black to honor Ant Farm’s Doug Michels’ passing…


For most visiting Cadillac Ranch, you’ll see the cars in various states of graffiti, and that’s just the way Ant Farm intended. If we ever hear about an upcoming repaint, we’ll let you know. We know you can’t resist being the first person to spray paint on a fresh Cadillac canvas…

See more photos of Cadillac Ranch...


Even better, go see it yourself. Here's a guide to help you tackle Texas's Route 66 attractions:

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trip of a lifetime