Buckle up because you’re in for quite a long ride!
The longest car in the world has finally been restored and is ready to cruise.
On 1 March 2022, the super limo rolled in at a length of 30.54 meters (100 ft and 1.50 in), breaking its 1986 record title by a small fraction.
First built in Burbank, California in 1986 by famed car customiser Jay Ohrberg, "The American Dream" originally measured 18.28 meters (60 feet), rolled on 26 wheels, and had a pair of V8 engines at the front and rear.
Ohrberg later extended the limo to an astounding 30.5 meters (100 feet) long.
To put its immense size into perspective, most cars measure between 12 to 16 feet (3.6 to 4.2 meters).
In fact, you could park 12 Smart Fortwo cars in a single file line and The American Dream would still be longer than all of them.
Based on the 1976 Cadillac Eldorado limousines, the record-breaking automobile can be driven from both ends and can also operate as a rigid vehicle.
The car was built in two sections, joined in the middle by a hinge for turning tight corners.
Its large size and extravagant features mean passengers can ride in the lap of luxury.
The American Dream includes material pleasures fit for a king; a large waterbed, a swimming pool complete with a diving board, jacuzzi, bathtub, mini-golf course, a helipad, and can fit more than 75 people!
“The helipad is structurally mounted to the vehicle with steel brackets underneath and can hold up to five thousand pounds,” said Michael Manning, who was involved in The American Dream’s restoration.
As if that weren’t already wheely impressive, it’s also equipped with several TVs, a refrigerator, and a telephone.
“We have a putting green here, so you can come in and land your helicopter, putt some balls and then go for a swim.”
However, it took a lot of hard work for Manning and his team to restore The American Dream to its former glory, which, after being abandoned at the back of a New Jersey warehouse for years, had fallen into a sorry state.
The history of The American Dream
After first being recognized by Guinness World Records in 1986, The American Dream suddenly rode into fame.
As one of the most unique automobiles to ever roll, the lengthy limo was often rented out for cinematic appearances and was featured in various movies.
While the car was very popular during its heyday, it gradually lost the attention once dedicated to its maintenance.
Obstacles such as where to park such a long vehicle and a decreased demand for the unique car in films caused its fame to eventually burn out.
After the world lost interest in The American Dream, the legendary car sat unloved for years.
Over time, it began to rust until parts of it were rendered unsalvageable.
From clunker to classic
Autoseum, a technical teaching museum owned by Michael Manning in Nassau County, New York, recovered the colossal Caddy for restoration.
“I first found the car at an autobody show in New Jersey and it was garbage. It was covered in graffiti, the windows were broken, the tires were flat, but I fell in love with it anyway. I said, ‘I’m going to get this car and I’m going to bring it back and restore it.’” – Michael Manning
Manning saw The American Dream listed on eBay and made an offer, hoping it was his chance at owning the super stretched limo.
“The corporation that had it listed didn’t want to sell it to me because they thought my offer was too low, so I made a deal to partner with them and bring it to New York,” said Manning.
Plans to restore it to its former glory through community donations eventually petered out amid county politics and budgetary changes, once again leaving the car’s fate uncertain.
“We were going to restore it at my school but there wasn’t enough funding to take on the project. It sat behind my building in Mineola for approximately seven, eight years,” continued Manning.
Autoseum’s lease with Nassau County was eventually terminated, leaving Manning struggling to find a place he could relocate the car to.
“I ended up listing it on eBay again and figured if I didn’t sell it, I would transport it up to some property I have in the Catskills,” said Manning.
“I was going to shrink-wrap it, always knowing it would eventually be restored. I wasn’t going to give up and cut it up.”
In 2019, Michael Dezer, owner of the Dezerland Tourist Attractions, saw the iconic car listed on eBay and contacted Manning.
After Dezer purchased the Caddy, it was shipped to Orlando, Florida to be restored, and Manning agreed to assist with the project that he had always dreamed of someday completing.
To prepare for its cross-country trip from New York to Orlando, The American Dream was split into two parts and loaded onto trailers.
With help from autobody repair students and fellow auto repair experts Paul Novack and Stephen Wepprecht, Manning went to Florida where the group began working together to restore the car.
The project, which cost over 250 thousand dollars (190,725 pounds) in shipping, materials, and labour, took three years to complete.
Although the vehicle was in poor shape, it proved to be resilient.
“We had to source some parts because they were destroyed,” said Manning.
“It was very hard to find an Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser roof for sale, but I happened to find somebody that had the roof cut off and in storage for 30 years that was willing to part with it.”
Most of the exterior work was completed by using additional parts from donor Eldorados to assist with its restoration.
“It has the original look. It’s an original Eldorado stretched out to be the longest limo in the world.”
The impressive Caddy also had some interior issues that had to be addressed.
“Getting it to drive again was difficult. We took the whole cab of the car out—the dashboard, the front seat, the motor, the transmission, and we cut it off the car,” said Manning.
“We put a new drive train and Eldorado cab in there from a few donor cars because it was totally destroyed, and we couldn’t rebuild that section.”
Ready to ride
After its long-awaited restoration, The American Dream is finally debuting its fresh paint job and a new flashy set of wheels.
Although it will no longer sit in a warehouse waiting to be admired, it won’t necessarily be hitting the road either.
“You really couldn’t put it on the road because it’s too long,” said Manning.
“It was built to be put on display.”
The car is now on display at Dezerland Park Orlando’s Auto Museum in Orlando, Florida.
“It’s something that has to be seen in person. When you see it live you think, ‘Wow, look at the size of this thing!’”
Manning says he will miss working on the unique car, which was a part of his life for over a decade.
“Yeah, I feel an attachment to it. Everybody thought that I was out of my mind for wanting to restore it, but I had a vision.”