Roadside Oddities: Car Art

Automobiles are an integral part of American life. They get us to our jobs and families, provide us with an element of freedom we hold so dear, and serve as indicators of status or occupation. Some exotic or antique cars are even considered works of art, with their beautiful engineering and design. It is no surprise, then, that cars have inspired some people to create art-sometimes even building pieces of art out of the cars themselves.

Carhenge

One of the most famous piece of car art is Carhenge, the Stonehenge replica built out of old cars. Located near Alliance, Nebraska, Carhenge consists of dozens of old cars either half-buried, upright, in the ground, or welded to the tops of other cars to form the mysterious henge. The field around Carhenge houses a car art reserve, featuring everything from a car-part dinosaur to a pioneer's covered station wagon. "The Four Seasons" features two cars stacked end-to-end, and a half-buried Yugo serves as a gravestone, proclaiming the supposed death of the foreign car in America.

Car Ranches

Carhenge is composed of a wide variety of car manufacturers and models, even including a jeep pickup. Three states south, another group of half-buried cars pays homage to only one brand: the Cadillac Ranch. The ranch is composed of 10 old Cadillacs, none newer than 1963, with their noses buried in west Texas soil. The line of tail fins is located along Interstate 40 near Amarillo, TX, meaning it gets a lot more drive-by traffic than Carhenge. Also unlike Carhenge, spray-painting graffiti on the Cadillac Ranch cars is allowed, and even encouraged.

If Caddies are not quite your style, you can drive east of Amarillo to the Bug Ranch. Here, the ground sprouts VW Bugs. It is basically Cadillac Ranch on a smaller scale: smaller cars, and fewer cars (5 Bugs vs. 10 Caddies). Spray-painting is still encouraged, causing both these oddities to become a form of participative art.

Fixer-upper

A truck stop in Oklahoma has taken the vertical-car themes of Cadillac and Bug Ranches to new heights, standing an entire 18-wheeler on its nose, trailer and all. This big rig serves as a 50-foot-tall sign for Wilkin's Oklahoma Truck Supply, along Interstate 35 south of Tonkawa, OK. The truck's upright trailer is painted to read "Got Problems?" and "We Fix Trucks". Of course, if your problem involves your truck looking anything like the one pictured, the odds of anyone fixing it are slim.

Car Kabob

Finally, perhaps the most creative (or at least most challenging to construct) piece of car art is the car kabob at the Cermak Plaza shopping center in Berwyn, Illinois, just outside Chicago. Officially titled "Spindle", it consists of 8 cars skewered by a 40-foot-tall spike. Spindle is probably most famous for its non-speaking role in the movie "Wayne's World". It is not the only piece of car art at Cermak plaza: You can also check out "Pinto Pelt", which is the "skin" of a Ford Pinto stretched out and pinned to the wall; and "The Helicopter", which is made from old farm machinery.

Know of any other great car art in your neck of the woods? Let me know.

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5 comments

EKJMmom 9 years ago

The truck standing on it's nose at Tonkawa has withstood a tornado! Don't forget the other truck beside it that looks like it's rearing up.


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Robin Layne 8 years ago from Oregon

There is a red, white, and blue pickup truck perched in a tree within sight of the highway between Portland, Oregon and the coast. Would that be considered car art, too? It reminds me of the scene from "Jurrassic Park" in which one of the jeeps falls into a tree.


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tjml 4 years ago

I enjoyed these Photos. Great work!



Gump 4 years ago

The following is a Flickr link to a photo I took of the "Pinto Pelt" in 1990!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/philleara/7383014988

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