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Idyllopus

I'd wanted to see it for years, and this past autumn finally stood on the hard-packed earth surrounding those 10 famous Cadillacs diving into subterranean America. The sky was cloudy gray, the wind was hard enough to knock you over, the fields were blank brown. We were passing, I'd forgotten the monument was outside Amarillo, and I yelled, "Stop!" We were the only ones there and first I took picks with the lousy camera outside the gate. I quit thinking unobtrusive portability, went to get the better camera and returned, opened the gate, and started toward the monument with son and husband, son frolicking in the wind. In the meanwhile, an SUV had pulled up and out piled paying tourists with their tourist organizer who handed them each a can of spray paint. They were there to make their mark rather than take in, but what struck me in their making of their marks was the general, joyless malaise. Overheard, "Well, we can say we've been here," which roused similar unenthusiastic remarks from my middle-aged peers who were determined not to be impressed--while I was nearly breathless. Car art! Cars driven into the ground! Not that "Cadillac Ranch" is a destination and pilgrimage...uh, but it is. And I'd never been a fan of Cadillacs when I first heard of Cadillac Ranch way too many years ago and knew I must one day pay my respects. Didn't give them any attention in the 60s and 70s. Was hardly aware my grandfather was the driver of a Cadillac and that it's what we rode around in when visiting radio stations he managed and owned (as you noted in the previous blog, he was one of those who made Cadillac grade in his 50s and said it was the only thing to do, to get a new Cadillac a year when your office is a car and you're in it all day every day). The sculpture is more than homage to the end of an era. No advertising. No pink lemonade stand selling suckers and tickets out front. No church looking for you to ride. No museum. And how many people visit a year. What pulls cars off the road toward 10 Cadillacs plunging into the ground?

I don't know?

But those 10 Cadillacs wouldn't be the same in the city, merged with concrete instead of ever diving into a nowhere field, would they? Inviting people away from community and yet into, just off the interstate, a grand piece of communal performance art, even if one is a sole visitor. Step through the gate and onto the stage. Which was the American Road and Route 66, an East meets West theater with technicolor landscapes that movieland vanity said needed us to be born into existence, with the Cadillac one of the penultimate ferries from here to the Other and back.

Took me a long time but around twelve years ago the humor finally tapped me of grandstanding to the supermarket in an old Cadillac with wagging tail fins and chrome in places no car should have chrome. If you don't laugh at yourself when driving an ostentatious piece of car, then you don't deserve it. For instance, I would be a happy person in this car.

But even more so in this. Or this!

Maybe, if I make it to 80, I'll buy a Cadillac El Dorado. With whose money, is a problem. Perhaps I should start playing the lottery and bet on rewarding my sorry longetivity tailgating golf carts around a Florida retirement community Wal-Mart.

Violet

Those cars look cool. No seatbelts?? I think it'd be fun to ride in an old car like that- so long as it could still drive well.

Jennifer

Okay, that is a nice Caddy as are the ones linked above. They had me thinking about the Cadillac Flower Car which is supposedly a Holy Grail for Cadillac enthusiasts. I realize it's a "Cadillac" and that some people go ga-ga over that, but is it really anything more than a glorified El Camino? Personally, I always thought the El Camino was the inbred offspring of the car world. Does the title of Cadillac make it more acceptable?

Jack (CommonSenseDesk)

Nice ride! Be very careful in the back seat.

Idyllopus

I know nothing about the subject, but with the Flower Car maybe it's simply to do with numbers. I read they made but a few a year (understandably).

Personally, I think it would be more fun to have the diecast collectible version of the flower car.

The Viscount

Those were the days!

daveminnj

a good looking car, to be sure.
but a dinosaur- an uncanny symbol
of postwar triumphalism. it mirrors
almost precisely the reputation of
the rat-pack. cool in the 50s,passe
in the 60s,embarassing in the 70s,
why can't they die in the 80s, boy
do i miss them in the 90s.
nostalgia.

coturnix

A friend of mine had an ElDorado and took me for a ride in it a few years back. That was great fun.

Also, ElCaminos are really hip in some segments of very hip communities (liberal academia).

Tom Hoczyk, Ft. Wayne, IN

The true flower car is anything but a glorified El Camino. Although Packard built some flower cars from the late '30's into the early '50's, most were built on the Cadillac Commercial Chassis, which is the same chassis used for hearses and ambulances. In 1984, Cadillac stopped building commercial chassis cars and subsequent funeral vehicles are all cut and stretched Fleetwoods.

There were two different styles of flower cars, commonly called Eastern & Western styles. Western Styles, indeed, looked like El Caminos. Easter Styles are much more complex, featuring a stainless steel deck over the open compartment. This deck had a pivot toward the back of the car and a hydraulic cylinder lowered the deck at the front about 2 feet to form a trough. Typically, during a funeral service, the directors tastefully placed the flowers that were around the casket on top of the flower car deck, and the car led the hearse to the cemetery. A true multi-purpose vehicle, a flower car has rollers beneath the deck and could be used as a hearse if the deck is left in the up position.

The link shows my collection of vintage funeral cars, including my 1953 Eureka-bodied Cadillac flower car which seems to be the only car exactly like it that I know to exist. I hope this helps with some clarification.

tim

throw some d's on that b*^@h

jj

nice fucking car man

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