Monday, August 25, 2014

Signs of the Times: Rancho Super Car Wash

There are some signs that, no matter how often they've been seen or photographed, still beg to be documented at every passing.  Such is the case with the animated, car-washing elephant of Rancho Mirage, CA's landmark, Rancho Super Car Wash.  Every time we head down Highway 111, we pull out the camera to capture the glimmering glory of that fez-wearing jumbo.

wacky tacky Rancho Super Car Wash
Rancho Super Car Wash (est. 1966)
"Light" on the animation (just the sparkling stream of water) but heavy on charm,
this bastion of vehicular OCD insists on a clean car; the desert can get very dusty
and an elephant never forgets to wash - and vacuum - his car....but never look in the
trunk (it's pretty filthy). 

Like a well-trained escapee from the never-was Coachella Valley Kiddie Circus, this playful pachyderm is a gentle reminder of how lax I am about the cleanliness of the wacky wagon.  Sadly, as soon as we get our photos, we usually just roll up the water-spotted windows and hit the time, next time.

I'll spare you the 749,000 other photos but trust me when I tell you that the sign is pink during the day and is only emblazoned in blue after sunset.  Thinking that Southern California had the market cornered on car-washing elephants, it was hard to contain my enthusiasm when on a late-night ride through Seattle, WA, I saw a similar silhouette glowing in the distance.

wacky tacky Elephant Super Car Wash
Elephant Super Car Wash (est. 1951)
Overwhelmed at the sight of Rancho's older sister in Seattle, all I got was
a glare-filled, through-the-window picture.  But isn't that sign great?!?!!
And get a load of that sweet ride on the other side of the road; my guess
is that it is another carload of neon-elephant-loving nerds!!!

Day or night, the Rancho Super Car Wash and its seemingly-unrelated extended family of signs has us drunk on neon wine; it seems that we see a parade of pink elephants everywhere we go!

"Pink Elephants on Parade" from Walt Disney's Dumbo

Rancho Super Car Wash
71490 Hwy 111
Rancho Mirage, CA

Elephant Super Car Wash
616 Battery St
Seattle, WA


Mr. Tiny


  1. I wish (like many others) that places and products of today could have whimsey like that! Just like I said about your hotel post, I would definitely use that car was just based on the neon sign!

    1. Me too! Imagine driving down the main thoroughfare of your town and seeing a million amazing neon signs!!!

  2. i took a photo of that sign when we were out there last summer! its so beautiful! i only saw it in the day, i like it even better at night!

    1. I'm so glad you guys got a chance to go to the desert and see this sign! Come back soon!