On Screen: Disney/Pixar's "Cars" Showcases Route 66 Architecture

By Joel Shprentz












Web Sites


The restored U-Drop Inn in 2004 and Romone's auto painting shop

The 1936 U-Drop Inn (left) in Shamrock, Texas inspired Romone's auto painting shop (right) in "Cars."

Art Deco lovers will find a lot to like in Disney/Pixar's new movie "Cars."

In a world filled with anthropomorphic cars, but no people, rookie race car Lightning McQueen must travel to California to compete in the big race. A wrong turn leads him to Radiator Springs, a town bypassed by the Interstate years ago. Can Lightning McQueen escape Radiator Springs to win the Piston Cup and also help his new Radiator Springs friends by restoring the town to its former glory?

Most of the buildings in Radiator Springs are inspired by classic buildings along Route 66. For example, Romone's auto painting shop is nearly identical to the 1936 Tower Service Station and U-Drop Inn Restaurant in Shamrock, Texas. (Can you recognize the rock formations in the background?)

The Cozy Cone Motel is similar to seven Wigwam Villages built between 1937 and 1949. Three survive: Wigwam Village #2 in Cave City, Kentucky; #6, the Wigwam Motel on Route 66 in Holbrook, Arizona; and #7, the Wigwam Motel on Route 66 in Rialto, California;

The Wig Wam Motel (left) and the Cozy Cone Motel (right)

Wigwam Villages, like the 1949 Wigwam Motel (left) in Rialto, California, inspired the Cozy Cone Motel (right) in "Cars."

Route 66 enthusiasts have identified other Radiator Springs buildings, as well as the nearby roads, bridges, and scenery. These web sites provide detailed descriptions and plenty of photos. Let us know if you find others.

Photo credits
U-Drop Inn copyright 2004 by
Wigwam Motel copyright 2006 by Joel Shprentz
Romone's auto painting shop and the Cozy Cone Motel copyright 2006 by Disney/Pixar

Where to Find the DVD

You can find Cars in video stores or purchase it on-line in full screen and wide screen editions at a discount from

ADSW offers this DVD in association with and receives a small commission on sales referred to them.



Created Thursday, June 22, 2006; Modified Sunday, July 26, 2009.