Found: The Original "Radiator Springs" by

DEPEW, Okla.--()--The first town to suffer the fate of bypassed "Radiator Springs" along legendary Route 66 has finally been identified. And it only took 85 years.

The fictional "Radiator Springs" from the "Cars" movies fell victim to an Interstate highway. But the very real town of Depew, Oklahoma was cut off the road as the Model-T era was ending.

Departments of Transportation and historical maps from all eight Route 66 states now confirm Depew was the first incorporated town or city on the Mother Road to be entirely bypassed.

Depew installed its own concrete paving to be on Rt 66 when the highway was established in 1926. Then in 1928, the awkward U-shaped routing--including four sharp turns, two railroad crossings, and a hill--got bypassed by the state. Depew's Town Clerk says that "about killed the town."

Establishing Depew as the "first" came through research by photographer Frank Gifford, owner of "I spent several hours photographing Depew in the rain. It's a profoundly moving place and many buildings are just facades. Later, writing captions, I became suspicious about the early bypass date and began asking questions."

Oklahoma's Department of Transportation confirmed a "first in Oklahoma" designation: "I would agree with you that the first relocation of US 66 that bypassed a town entirely in Oklahoma was the 1928 relocation at Depew." --Gary Ray Howell, ODOT.

Follow-up letters and period highway maps from the other seven Rt 66 states now confirm no entire city or town was bypassed earlier.

This dislocation continued into the Interstate era--a story well-told in the "Cars" movies and at "Cars Land."

After being forgotten for 85 years, Depew, OK turns out to be the original "Radiator Springs" on America's most famous highway.


Depew is halfway between Oklahoma City and Tulsa with many visual possibilities. Route 66 (US 66) stretched 2450 miles (3950 km) between Chicago and Los Angeles. It remains a major tourist attraction.

Photographer Frank Gifford is at 936 254-2438 (Texas, Central Time) or 936 645-6781 (Cell). The link to his Depew images is: and this authorizes your use. is viewed in 80+ countries. It contains 1700+ photographs and works of photo-based art from Route 66 alone, plus cars and the American roadside.

Documentation is available on request.

Frank Gifford, 936-254-2438
Cell: 936-645-6781

Release Summary

The real "Radiator Springs" has been hiding along Route 66 for 85 years.

Frank Gifford, 936-254-2438
Cell: 936-645-6781