Automobiles of Arizona

21 - 22 January 2010

Friday

Lot 253

1956 Cadillac "Maharani Special" Motorama Show Car

To be auctioned on Friday, January 22, 2010

Sold for $225,500

  • Chassis no. 5660022693
History is important to us, and all lots offered are fully researched. All corresponding information and accessories, from certificates to tool kits, stays with the lots we sell. All of this is held at our library on site, under the Access the Knowledge banner, so please visit us there or contact us before the auction if you require further information.


285 bhp, 365 cu. in. overhead valve V8 engine, Hydramatic three speed automatic transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs, live rear axle with leaf springs and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 133"

In the 1950s, if there was one thing a gearhead could always make time for, it was General Motors’ highly anticipated Motorama traveling car show. These shows were more than just a glimpse into tomorrow but rather exhibitions of the latest technical advances, secrets, styling trends of tomorrow and a look into what breakthroughs and amenities everyone would benefit from in the future. While all GM divisions took part in these cavalcades of steel and chrome, Cadillac seemed to receive some of the most innovative, if not outlandish, treatment.

On their own, the styling trends from Cadillac in the mid-1950s were a bit over the top. From the exaggerated “Dagmar” bumpers to the vast amounts of chrome used for the grille, trim and even interior appointments, everyone knew that it was a Cadillac from a block away. For 1956, a few new touches were incorporated, including the flared exhaust nacelles on the rear quarter panels, revised textures in the trademark front-end design and, most noticeably, a lower and leaner profile. While the famous, extravagant tailfins were still somewhat subdued in their size, they were certainly the talk of the town, especially if one worked for one of Cadillac’s competitors in Motor City. For the most part, these cars were among the most luxurious automobiles produced in America, and everyone expected nothing less than perfection and cutting-edge technology from GM’s top-dollar car line.

In order to help promote this image, the go-ahead was given for the 1956 Motorama for which Cadillac produced a quartet of special edition models, of which the Maharani Special is widely considered the most outlandish. From the outside, there is little to differentiate this Fleetwood Sixty sedan from a regular production model, save for the unique Chantilly metallic maroon color and the use of golden anodized saber-spoke wheels. Instead, it was the interior that really left onlookers awestruck. As one writer described recently, “it is enough to make even the most well appointed Winnebago jealous!”

Although the car was officially named the “Maharani Special,” in reference to the wife of a maharajah or king, it is widely referred to as the “Kitchen Sink Cadillac” by collectors and enthusiasts today. Its stated purpose was to store, prepare, serve and clean-up an entire meal, in a setting fit for a king. As such, it was designed as nothing short of a kitchen on wheels – a function that required the removal of about half the front seat to allow for the installation of various unique features. The first feature is a specially designed electrical hot plate on which to warm one’s food. For those who enjoyed a sandwich from time to time, a toaster was installed as well, large enough for two slices. Perishables need to be kept cool, which is why a refrigerator was also installed, with cooling systems mounted in the trunk. This unit was designed by GM’s Frigidaire division and was conveniently located for access by the back-seat chef. To serve dinner, there is enough storage for the finest china as well as a cutlery tray that features individual positions for forks, knives and spoons.

There’s even enough room for a custom-crafted folding table as well as a coffee dispenser. But the car’s most distinguishing feature – from which its nickname was born – is the kitchen sink, complete with running water supplied through a custom pump and sanitary tanks. In short, the Maharani Special was capable of offering a lavish and complete dining experience, from start to finish. Even the dishes could be washed in the sink before being stored in their respective compartments. All of these items were designed compactly within this special console and could be hidden away with a special roll-top covering that slides up to present a neat and tidy appearance for guests.

But wait, there’s more to this Maharani Cadillac! As this car was designed for affluent owners or even members of royalty, the designers took into account any cash, jewels and other valuables that might require safekeeping. The Maharani Special was therefore equipped with a safe, neatly concealed in the hand-crafted console along with a custom lady’s vanity.

Finished in its correct, original shade of Burgundy, the interior presents a Far Eastern motif that is fit for royalty. Seating and door panels are covered in a color-coordinated snake skin-pattern bolster, complemented by golden satin-print insert fabrics. Plush mouton fur carpeting covers the floors, and the engine bay retains the original Cadillac engine, as well as the beverage and water supply tanks.

In addition to the jaw-dropping aforementioned list of unique features, this car naturally retains all of its Sixty Special equipment, including all the power features one would expect from a luxury car of the era. Power steering, brakes and windows are included, and the driver’s seat can be adjusted electrically. A factory AM radio is still mounted in the dashboard as is the auto-wind clock.

With its original drivetrain, this car is reported to be in excellent mechanical order. It has been shown at only a few select shows and exhibitions and consistently draws a crowd that still marvels at all the gadgets this kitchen-on-wheels offers. Every feature the car originally came with is still in place today, although they have not been tested by the current owner.

In fact, the car shows just 1,704 miles – tremendously low mileage that was accumulated primarily from minimal movement in and around car shows. It has its original tools and still wears its original gum dipped Firestone tires, complete with an original and unused spare tire on a matching gold Kelsey-Hayes spare spoke wheel. It was formerly part of the collections of Gene Zimmerman and Joe Bortz, whose expertise in collecting rare dream cars is highly respected in the industry.

While many of the special dream cars created by Cadillac have disappeared over the years, the fact that this very special example has survived, as it was originally presented, renders it all the more desirable for dedicated collectors and avid historians of the marque.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alain Squindo


Detroit, Michigan

Alain Squindo joined RM Auctions in 2007, after graduating from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., with a degree in History. R... read more

Alex Classick

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United Kingdom

Alex Classick joined RM Europe in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Nottingham University with a degree in Business Mana... read more

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California, USA

Alexander Weaver joined RM Auctions in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born into ... read more

Annette Abaci

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Germany

With post-secondary degrees in Economic Science and Mechanical Engineering, Annette Abaci initially worked part-time at Mercedes-Benz ... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a senior car specialist, after more than a decade in the collector car hobby... read more

Dan Warrener

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Ontario, Canada

Possessing a degree in Economics from Brandon University, Dan Warrener spent the initial stages of his career working around the globe... read more

Don Rose

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United States

Don Rose joined RM Auctions in 2006, after many years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputatio... read more

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Florida, USA

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

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Ontario, Canada

Gord joined RM Auctions in 1998, initially responsible for the transportation and logistics of the company’s auction and restora... read more

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New York, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College, with a B.A. in Politica... read more

Jack Boxstrom

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Ontario, Canada

Jack Boxstrom joined RM Auctions in late-1996 to assist with the recently acquired, and subsequently record-breaking, auction in Monte... read more

Max Girardo

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United Kingdom

Max Girardo started his career in the vintage automobile industry in 1998, joining Brooks Auctioneers (now Bonhams) as a car specialis... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Auctions, Mike Fairbairn has a longstanding interest in the classic car industry. Graduati... read more

Peter Wallman

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United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007, following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, read more

Peter Giddings

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California, United States

A life-long car enthusiast, Peter joined RM’s California office with over half a century of experience in the automotive and rac... read more

Peter Blond

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United Kingdom

Peter Blond joined the RM Europe team in 2013 after being immersed in the collector car industry for more than 60 years. An... read more

Rob Myers

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Ontario, Canada

As chairman and founder of the RM Group of Companies, Rob Myers’s entire career has been devoted to the classic car industry. Ro... read more

Shelby Myers

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California, USA

Shelby Myers literally grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to w... read more

Vinnie Mandzak

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California, USA

Vinnie Mandzak joined RM Auctions’ California office in 2012 as a car specialist, following more than 30 years’ experience... read more

Jeff Whiteside

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Ontario, Canada

Jeff Whiteside joined RM Auctions as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer following almost three decades in a diverse r... read more