Isaac Hayes' Gold-Plated Cadillac – Memphis, Tennessee - Atlas Obscura
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Memphis, Tennessee

Isaac Hayes' Gold-Plated Cadillac

The bad ass ride of a soul legend, housed in one of the world's few soul museums. 

Stax Museum of American Soul Music celebrates the music greats of the genre in its Memphis home, but the place of honor is given to one great ride.

Positioned on a rotating stage in the museum is the gold-plated Cadillac owned by Isaac Hayes. Built especially for the soul singer-songwriter in 1972 as part of a contract negotiation, it has a fur-lined interior, television, refrigerated bar, and 24-karat gold detailing on the exterior — including gold windshield wipers.

But before you think it must have been an ostentatious showpiece and never hit the streets, you are wrong. Hayes took pride in cruising Memphis in the tricked out Cadillac Eldorado. As he worked as both a record producer and an in-house songwriter at Stax, which was then a record label in the former theater on McLemore Avenue, it may have even visited the current museum.

Unfortunately, Hayes went bankrupt and lost the car. Stax itself shut down in 1976, although it left behind an influential legacy in music recording with artists like Otis Redding and Albert King. However, when the building reopened as a museum in 2003, Stax and the Hayes Cadillac were reunited.

The museum also includes a fantastic array of soul music artifacts, from a 1906 Mississippi delta gospel church preserved in its entirety to the dance floor from Soul Train.