1956 Cadillac Maharani included a Kitchen Sink! The Bortz Report by Joe Bortz, Classic Car Round-Up October 2019
After WWII, General Motors was the largest corporation in the world. The pipelines were just flowing with massive amounts of money and profits. Harley Earl was not the president nor did he ever become President of General Motors but for all intents and purposes after the war, Harley Earl had as much influence and presence as any of the top executives including the General Motors president.
The reason that Harley Earl was elevated to this level of prominence was that there was nobody who was more of a visionary and had more creative passion than Harley Earl at General Motors. By the 1950s Harley Earl was into his “Dream Car” (today known as concept cars) for every division. At one point he even got carried and told some of his cohorts that he was tired of hearing the expression that his current Dream Cars had everything but the kitchen sink and that got him thinking and in 1955 he took a 1955 Cadillac Fleetwood off the line and decided to put in the full kitchen including “the kitchen sink”.
This car was known as the 1956 Cadillac Maharani Motorama show car. The “Maharani” was the wife of a maharaja. The car featured burgundy snake skin and satin print with mouton carpeting interior. The passenger seat was removed from the car and replaced with a console with a built-in kitchen sink with running water, a refrigerator (compressor in the trunk), hot plate, toaster, flatware and china storage and a flip out table.
The car also includes a built safe and a separate safety deposit box. The reason I can tell you in a authoritative way about this car is that it was part of the Bortz Auto Collection for almost 20 years in the 1980s and 1990s. It was an extremely interesting car and always created a lot of attention because of the nickname that it received “the kitchen sink car”. The truth be told it didn’t look much different on the outside than a beautiful 1956 Cadillac Fleetwood 4-door sedan but the idea that it had a running water kitchen sink, plates and utensil holder, hot plate for cooking and other interesting features certainly would stir everybody’s interest at a car show.
The first time that I saw it was at a famous car museum on the East Coast called the Gene Zimmerman Car Museum which was part of Gene Zimmerman’s hotel. It was definitely a Motorama car and did appear at the Motoramas. After its stint at the Gene Zimmerman’s museum, it went into private hands and then subsequently into the Bortz Auto Collection. As far as I know the car pretty much disappeared in the late 1990s. When the car was in the Bortz Auto Collection and even these days, I am always surprised that few collectors know that this car was even produced. It is my understanding that it is now in the hands of collectors in the United Arab Emirates and has not been seen in the last decade or so.
Now if any of the readers know of any concept cars from the 1950s to the turn of the century, 2000s that are yet undiscovered, I would certainly love to hear from you. There are still one or two of the Futurliners that are missing from the roster as well as several Motorama cars, a couple of Ford concept cars and several of Virgil Exner’s prototype Ghia concept cars. You of course can see more of the concept cars that are in or have been in the Bortz Auto Collection at our website www.BortzAutoCollection.com or contact me atBortzCars@aol.com
As always I love to hear the comments from my readers.
Good wishes for what is left of the Collector Car Show Season.