The Secret History Behind Dr. Seuss’ Iconic Catmobile

Introducing Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat

The Cat in the Hat is a classic children’s book written and illustrated by Theodor Seuss Geisel under the pen name Dr. Seuss. It was published by Random House in 1957.

The book tells the story of a mischievous anthropomorphic cat who wears a tall, red and white striped hat. The Cat shows up at the house of two children, Sally and her brother, and entertains them with silly tricks while their mother is away. Some of the iconic images from the book include the Cat balancing many household items on his hat, using a long extendable arm to reach things, and the incident where he accidentally knocks over a vase with a big bump.

The Cat in the Hat was an instant success upon publication and led to a slew of other books featuring the title character. It is considered one of the most iconic and influential children’s books of all time, introducing generations of kids to the whimsical world and rhyming poetic voice of Dr. Seuss (

The book has remained popular for over 60 years, cementing the Cat’s image and red-and-white hat as a symbol of Dr. Seuss. However, it has also faced controversies over the years, with some critics calling attention to racial stereotypes in the Cat’s design.

The Cat’s Iconic Car

The Cat in the Hat’s bright red car with the fringed top is one of the most iconic vehicles in children’s literature. When the book was first published in 1957, Dr. Seuss drew the car as a vivid red convertible with two big eyes for headlights and a single centered headlight in the grille to give it a face (VoloCars). The car has a long frontend and tail that sways back and forth like an elephant’s trunk. Seuss added red and white fringes around the canopy top to give the car a carnival-like, playful look.

The vehicle only appears in a few illustrations in the original book, but its unique design made it iconic. With its animated face, red fringed top, and ability to maneuver up and down stairs, the car seems like a character itself. The way the mischievous Cat drives it adds to the sense of fun and adventure. More than just a mode of transportation, the car is an essential part of the Cat’s personality and magic.

The Car Comes to Life

The Cat in the Hat’s famous car was brought to life through an elaborate prop production process for the live-action movie. Designers worked closely with the film’s production team to create a larger-than-life, drivable version of the iconic car from Dr. Seuss’ original book.

According to an interview with production designer Stephane Collonge in American Cinematographer [1], the car measured around 18 feet long and 12 feet high. Collonge and his team fabricated the body panels and framework using styrofoam before covering it in fiberglass. The giant wheels were made of wood and rubber.

The car was built on top of a Mustang chassis to make it operational. Legendary car customizer Eddie Paul led the moving parts fabrication, allowing the car to be driven for certain shots. Visual effects were added in post-production to erase the Mustang chassis underneath and make the Cat’s car appear to move on its own.

Technical Specifications

The Cat in the Hat’s fantastical car was custom built for the film by Rick Carter’s production design team at Universal Pictures. According to IMDb, the car measured 22 feet long, 8 feet wide, and 12 feet high. It was powered by a 350 horsepower LT1 Corvette engine with a 4-speed automatic transmission (IMDb).

The exterior body was made of fiberglass mounted over a steel tube frame chassis. The interior featured custom red leather seats, control panels, buttons, levers, and monitors to allow the Cat to drive the car using exaggerated movements (Wikipedia). The car was engineered with a hydraulic system to tilt, bounce, and rock violently in sync with the Cat’s driving antics.

To enable the car to perform extreme maneuvers like driving vertically up a wall, the wheels could rotate 90 degrees. The effects team installed high-pressure air cannons under the car to help propel it into the air for jumps and flips. Cables and pulley systems were also rigged for certain gravity-defying stunts (Shot On What).

Custom Fabrication

The Cat’s iconic automobile, officially named the Super Luxurious Omnidirectional Whatchamajigger, was custom fabricated by noted hot rod builder Dynacorn (

Dynacorn founder Steve Griswold and his team hand-built the Whatchamajigger from the ground up. They started with a unique frame to allow for the vehicle’s ability to stretch, inflate, and transform. The body panels were then hand-fabricated from aluminum using vintage hot rod building techniques.

Custom touches were added throughout, like the rear-facing front seats, aviation-style instrument panel, and vibrant red button starter. The intricate fabrication produced a one-of-a-kind automobile worthy of Dr. Seuss’s imaginative character.

Up Close with the Car

The Cat’s signature red automobile was one of the most iconic props featured in the 2003 live-action adaptation of The Cat in the Hat. Though CGI was used to animate the car during driving sequences, a full-sized physical prop was built for scenes filmed on set.

Photos from the production reveal the incredible attention to detail that went into constructing the car. It stands over 8 feet tall, with large exaggerated wheels and Dr. Seuss’ artwork painted on the doors and hood. The interior looks plush and comfortable, with red velvet seats and colorful buttons and levers to activate the car’s magical abilities.

According to production stories, the car was mounted on a chassis that allowed it to be driven short distances on set. Crew members could sit inside and drive it for shots. The design provided plenty of room for actors Spencer Breslin, Dakota Fanning and Mike Myers to climb in and out for filming.

Cast and crew who got to see the car up close while working on the film recall being amazed by its size and quality. Dakota Fanning said, “I remember thinking it was the coolest thing ever when I first saw it! I loved all the little details.” The intricate prop built to recreate this iconic vehicle from Dr. Seuss’ book captured imaginations on set just as it does for audiences watching the film.

The Car After Filming

After being used in the filming of The Cat in the Hat in 2003, the iconic car driven by Mike Myers was acquired by Volo Auto Museum in Volo, Illinois. According to the museum’s website, “This is no ordinary car from an ordinary movie. This revolutionary car concept sparked the imagination of millions of Dr. Seuss fans.”

The car, officially called the Super Luxurious Omnidirectional Whatchamajigger or S.L.O.W., has been on display at Volo Auto Museum ever since. Fans of Dr. Seuss and The Cat in the Hat can see the iconic car up close in its full glory. The custom-built vehicle looks just like it did in the movie, with its vivid red color, silver accents, and oversized cat ears on the top.

While the S.L.O.W. car remains on permanent display, it has made special public appearances over the years. According to the Volo Auto Museum website, it was unveiled at the 35th Annual Woodward Dream Cruise in 2009 to celebrate the book’s 50th anniversary.

The Cat in the Hat car continues to delight Dr. Seuss fans young and old. Getting to see the real-life S.L.O.W. is a one-of-a-kind experience for anyone who grew up reading the classic children’s book. At Volo Auto Museum, the magic of The Cat in the Hat lives on through this imaginative four-wheeled co-star.

Impact on Pop Culture

The Cat in the Hat’s car has remained an iconic symbol from the popular Dr. Seuss book and 2003 film. Though it did not have an official name in the original book, the car was referred to as the “Super Luxurious Omnidirectional Whatchamajigger” or S.L.O.W. in the live-action movie.

The quirky design and vivid colors of the car made it instantly recognizable. As Jon Wooder wrote in a blog post, it became “the vehicle that defied physics and captured hearts.”

The car has inspired many replicas, toys, and costumes. According to the Volo Auto Museum in Illinois, they worked with Universal Studios to create an incredibly detailed, drivable replica of the S.L.O.W. car for their Dr. Seuss exhibit (Volo Auto Museum). Fans regularly dress up as the car for Halloween or cosplay. It remains one of the most iconic symbols from the Cat in the Hat’s world.

The Legacy of Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss, born Theodor Seuss Geisel, left behind a lasting legacy as one of the most iconic and influential children’s authors and illustrators. Though he passed away in 1991 at the age of 87, his imaginative stories and timeless characters continue to capture the hearts and minds of children and adults around the world.

The whimsical worlds, playful rhymes, and endearing characters Dr. Seuss created in books like The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas! have become deeply embedded into popular culture. Phrases like “I do not like green eggs and ham” and characters like the Grinch and the Cat in the Hat are immediately recognizable even to those unfamiliar with the original stories. As Dr. Seuss once said, “Adults are obsolete children and the hell with them,” showing his commitment to writing for the child in everyone.

Dr. Seuss’s books have sold over 600 million copies and have been translated into more than 20 languages, proving their universal appeal. Though some of his earlier works contained insensitive stereotypes, Dr. Seuss Enterprises has worked to address this by ceasing publication of those specific titles. There is still so much that is positive about Dr. Seuss’s legacy.

New generations continue to be introduced to Dr. Seuss’s stories through remakes and adaptations. Major films like How the Grinch Stole Christmas starring Jim Carrey, the animated The Lorax, and Illumination’s The Grinch have brought Seuss stories to life on the big screen. On Broadway, Seussical the Musical weaves together characters from various books in a fantastical production. It’s clear Dr. Seuss’s creativity and imagination will continue inspiring new adaptations for years to come.

Though he passed away over 30 years ago, Dr. Seuss endures through his timeless books and whimsical creations that spark creativity and joy for readers young and old. The inspiring legacy he left promises to continue influencing generations far into the future.

The Timelessness of The Cat in the Hat

The story of The Cat in the Hat continues to captivate young audiences decades after its original publication in 1957. The creativity and skill that went into bringing Dr. Seuss’ classic children’s book to life is a major reason for its enduring popularity and ability to spark young imaginations.

At the heart of the story’s timeless appeal is the fun-loving, mischievous Cat who enters the lives of two bored children left home alone on a rainy day. As described in The Cat in the Hat Wikipedia page, “The story centers on a tall anthropomorphic cat who wears a red and white-striped top hat and a red bow tie. The Cat shows up at the house of Sally and her brother one rainy day when their mother is away.” (

The Cat’s larger-than-life personality and his series of hilarious antics captivate young readers. The story is brought to life through Dr. Seuss’ clever rhymes and engaging illustrations. As noted in an article on, “The timeless appeal of the Cat in the Hat goes beyond age boundaries, captivating the hearts and imaginations of both children and adults.” (

For over 60 years, The Cat in the Hat has sparked children’s creativity and joy of reading through its memorable characters, rhymes, and illustrations. Dr. Seuss’ masterful storytelling and inventive spirit ensure the tale continues engaging young readers today and for generations to come.

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