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Kon Tiki Motel, El Centro, CA (motel)

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Name:Kon Tiki Motel
Street:1226 Adams St (Hwy 80 & 99)
City:El Centro


Well, it's lonely out here these days on Locating Tiki, but I will continue. I have a few postcards from the Kon Tiki Motel that was located on motel row in El Centro - stomping grounds of Mad Dog Mike!

View of the hotel.

A very nice sign.

A few Tiki masks on the overhead.

Another card showing hotel row.

Found this close up of the sign at the end of its days online.


DC, what do you NOT find! :lol:

In the 50s and 60s, Adams Ave used to be the hotel district. Most of the hotels are still there but considerably shady now, it's now the home to mostly "crack houses" (double entendre intended) About 2 blocks away is a Polynesian restaurant, still has the 80s turquoise and red painted tiki out front. Last time I ate there was probably 30 years ago and it was pretty seedy then, I doubt that it has improved any.

Let me see if I can take some current pics of the Kon Tiki to post.


Looking on Google street view, I see the building is still there and it's now a Budget Inn. About the only thing remaing that's a reminder of its past is the rock wall on the front of the building.


I appreciate your contributions, please don't stop posting these finds.


Yes, the building is still there, but here is the only evidence that it was once the Kon Tiki Motel: a hand lettered sign in the alley

Looks like it's now the "American Inn", probably neither American nor an inn :D

This motel was part of the tiki fabric of my youth. I never had reason to go inside but remember riding by in the back of the car often. Down the road a bit was the old style Kentucky Fried Chicken (before it became KFC) with the red tin roof, the old style Taco Bell with the fire pit out front, Sambo's, the Polynesian Villiage Mobile Home Estates, and this gem

The recently remodeled Tropicana Restaurant. Too bad they didn't strip off the 1980's paint job from this tiki when they remodeled the building

It was a dive when I last ate there 30 or 35 years ago. But it's been there at least 40 years, they must be doing something right?

That sign behind the chain link fence and the Milan Guanko Tiki with the clown paint job are classic images of Tiki devolution. I forgot about that Mobile home park in your hood.... that probably had a cool sign once too.

Someone should liberate that sad tiki, sand blast all that crappy paint off it and hold in a safe house for it's own protection.

The old neon sign was nice. The devolution is tragic as usual.


Thanks for the scouting report. Maybe that Tiki can be saved?

Found another photo of the sign on-line.


Tourist photo of the Kon Tiki Motel in El Centro - S & H Stamps a bonus!


Very nice classic photo. Green Stamps, I remember those. Thanks for posting.


Back around 1974/5 a friend took me to a Polynesian/ Mexican restaurant near El Centro CA. I cannot remember the name. I don't think that it is the drive inn in El Centro that I saw on Tiki Central. Anyone have any ideas?.

Rumonkey, it was probably El Tiki. I may have been working there the night you visited :lol:

Here is another photo of the motel sign in its declining years. I just noticed that the sign changed over time, with the top and bottom colors and the font used for the Kon Tiki letters.


Pages: 1 12 replies