Even if you don’t know car customizer Jay Ohrberg’s name, you probably know his work. That’s because he’s famous for building a lot of the best-known movie and television cars — like the General Lee, Knight Rider‘s KITT, the Back to the Future DeLorean, and the Ford Gran Torino from Starsky and Hutch.
But he also built a lesser-known vehicle that might just be his most impressive feat: the "American Dream," a 100-foot limo, hinged in the middle, with 26 wheels, a helipad, a Jacuzzi and multiple interior "rooms." And now it appears to be wasting away in a parking lot.
Let’s go back to the start. In the late 1980s, Ohrberg dreamed up the idea of creating the world’s longest car — so he set about building the American Dream, which was initially based on a 1970s Cadillac Eldorado. In the end, however, there’s not much Eldorado left — save for the front grille, the wheel design and a few trim pieces. That’s because (as you might expect) the American Dream required extensive modifications in order to stretch out to 100 feet long — modifications that included placing six wheels in the front, a hinge in the middle, and a dozen more wheels in back.
And then there were the modifications that favored extravagance over function. The American Dream had a helipad in back, and there are a few surviving photos of an actual helicopter sitting on top of the thing. The limo’s rear end also included a Jacuzzi — and there are more than a few photos of people hanging out, enjoying their Jacuzzi time, in the back of this real, working, 100-foot-long automobile. Between the weight of the helipad and the water in the Jacuzzi, you can suddenly start to understand why the rear end of this thing included so many wheels. See the Cadillac Eldorado models for sale near you
Now, obviously, a 100-foot vehicle sounds like it would be tremendously undriveable — so Ohrberg came up with an idea: He built the car in two sections with a hinge in the middle, sort of like the accordion-style buses they have in some major cities. The result was that the car could, theoretically, go around some turns — although I can’t imagine it was particularly easy to drive anywhere, even with the hinge. In fact, a search for "American Dream limo" turns up several shots of the car, in sections, being carried around on the back of a trailer.
So that’s the story of the American Dream’s concoction, and a few of its more unique extravagances. And while it sounds cool, well, things eventually took a turn for the worse.
Due the aforementioned issues with actually driving the American Dream, I strongly suspect it didn’t get very much use. In fact, I strongly suspect it got virtually zero use, and I strongly suspect people who attempted to use it ended up dismayed, disappointed, angry and possibly facing a lawsuit from anyone standing on a street corner when it attempted to make a turn.
And so, the picture you see above (and this rather depressing YouTube video) appears to show the American Dream in its current state: wasting away in a parking lot. The current condition is beyond rough, with several wheels missing, visible body damage, an interior largely stripped out and open to the elements, missing windows and missing trim. Alas, the American Dream is dead… in limo form, anyway.
With that said, this story may end up with happy ending. Although I can’t prove this or find any images verifying it, a few 2014 reports suggest the vehicle was "saved" by the Autoseum in Mineola, New York — a group dedicated to teaching people how to work on cars.
But a little sleuthing suggests the image above may have actually been taken at the Autoseum, as a Google satellite image appears to reveal the American Dream parked behind its building, in the back of its parking lot, blocked in by dozens of other vehicles — meaning it appears that they, too, may have found the American Dream a little too daunting to get back on the road. I certainly don’t blame them. But wouldn’t it be kind of cool to see that Jacuzzi fire up one more time? Find a Cadillac Eldorado for sale
Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.