Some of you may have noticed a special, one-off car among the beauties showcased in our San Diego Automotive Museum gallery piece. It’s Louie Mattar’s $75,000 1947 custom Cadillac. In 1952, Mattar and two other men drove this one-of-a-kind Caddy from San Diego to New York and back, without a single stop. Their trip totaled 6,320 miles!
To be able to do this, Mr. Mattar worked 5 years on modifying his 1947 Cadillac, which, by the time it was completed, turned into quite a unique car. For examples, the Caddy automatically refills the radiator and changes the oil. Having drilled axles, the wheels could be inflated while turning and, also, hydraulic jacks could raise the car to allow the wheels to be changed while moving.
Driving more than 6,000 miles non-stop can take its toll on a car, so, for more complicated repairs and adjustments, the hood featured clear panels, which allowed the driver to keep on going, while the other two passengers fiddled under the bonnet, standing on movable platforms attached to the side of the car.
Aside from setting the aforementioned cross-country endurance record, Louie’s Cadillac is considered to be the first motorhome ever built. The three men who completed the grueling journey had a rolling home at their disposal. The modified Cadillac featured many luxuries such as an electric stove, refrigerator, TV, washing machine, chemical toilet, shower, medicine cabinet and kitchen sink. They even had an ironing board, all integrated into the back seat.
Up front, the car had a nationwide mobile telephone, PA system, tape recorder and a Turkish pipe. Not many modern cars feature such a varied equipment list, let alone a complete bar for those moments when monotony and homesickness struck.
The shiny trailer held a 30-gallon reserve of water (50 gallons were in a tank mounted in the car), 230 gallons of gas and 15 gallons of oil, meaning that it needed refueling only three times during the week-long trip (September 20-27, 1952), done of course while moving, on airfields located in Kansas City, Camden and Omaha.
Two years later, the same car was also driven non-stop from Anchorage to Mexico City, over a distance of 7,482 miles.
Check the videos below for more information on this one-of-a-kind car and his creator.
By Csaba Daradics