1955 Chevy El Morocco?

If you are afraid of being unique or hate to have people stop and ask about your ride all the time….this car is not for you!! We are still trying to confirm half the rumors and stories that go with this find…but they are all interesting. One story we are pursuing is that this was a very early George Barris car, thus far the best we have for documentation is an email trail between us and Mr. Barris’ daughter confirming that it “looks like something Dad would build” she is in the process of doing some research, however early records were never really important to him back in the day. Another theory (and looking at it, it could be!!) is that this is an El Morocco, of which thirty six production models were made and the history is below. What we do know for sure is that this car was last purchased over 20 years ago and has spent that entire time in storage waiting to be brought to life again as a HOT WHEELS Classic.  Actual facts are this, a 1955 Chevy front end, a 1956 Cadillac El Dorado rear quarters, and a 1957 Buick Riviera Roof. It has a custom interior with a center console wrapped in leather from fore to aft with all controls mounted in the center. Drive train is a Buick Nail Head mounted to a power glide automatic. The motor runs solid and tight. With a little love this baby could make everyone drool.  

El Morocco

During the 1950s Allender & Co. began to buy surplus automotive trim, hardware and weather-stripping and bought or leased space at a number of downtown Detroit facilities, one of which was the former Alden Park Manor garage on Van Dyke St­., near E Jefferson Ave., to store it. 

Reuben Allender was a longtime Cadillac owner who envisioned a smaller, easier to maneuver Cadillac that his grandchildren could learn to drive with. He purchased a new Eldorado Biarritz convertible in 1955 and reckoned that with some additional bodywork, the new 1955 Chevrolet could be re-styled to resemble the Eldorado. The 'El Morocco' was one of Manhattan's most popular night spots during the 50s, and only a couple of letters needed to be replaced to create ‘El Morocco’ out of ‘El Dorado’.

The 1956 prototype closely resembled Allender’s Biarritz from the rear, and $40,000 was budgeted for the project which commenced on the first two floors of the old Alden Park Manor garage (located on Van Dyke near the intersection of E. Jefferson Ave.). Thomp­son fabricated the vehicle’s unique body-side moldings and located many of the needed components in R. Allender Co.’s own warehouses. The few metal parts that couldn’t be found were fabricated by Wettlaufer Engineering Corp., a Detroit-based automobile body and trim supplier that was owned by the Pioneer Engineering Mfg. Co. of Warren, Michigan.

Donor cars were purchased from Detroit’s Don McCoullagh Chevrolet at $50 over cost, and Allender used off-the-shelf parts wherever possible. The 1956 El Morocco included a Kaiser-Frazer horn button for its hood medallion, ’55 Willys dash panels for the door top saddle moldings and '55-'56 Dodge Coronet taillights mounted side-by-side above faux exhaust ports that resembled those used on the real Biarritz. One of the surviving 1956 convertibles does not use the ports seen on the prototype as it has genuine chrome exhaust tips exiting underneath the bumper - as to whether that was an option, production change or restoration error is unknown. The front bumpers included fiberglass reinforced ‘Dagmars’ made from reversed ’37 Dodge headlight shells and the rear fins were edged with trim supposedly sourced from a 1955 Ford.

Now we are not saying that this car is in fact an El Morroco, but if it isn’t a left over or a prototype, then whoever built this was definitely influenced by Ruby’s design. The information above, and much more including photos, can be found at http://www.coachbuilt.com/bui/a/allender/allender.htm    

George Barris

 The King of the Customizers

The 1960s would see the firm become heavily involved in vehicle design for television production. At the beginning of the decade, Barris, who loved extravagant design whether his or someone else's, had purchased the Lincoln Futura, a concept car of the mid-1950s which had been built by Ghia of Italy. It remained in his collection for several years, until he was rather unexpectedly asked by ABC Television to create a signature vehicle for their new Batman television series. Time was very short as filming would begin in a few weeks, and creation of a new design from scratch was scarcely possible. Instead, he remembered the Futura, which had been designed by the original Lincoln stylists to resemble a shark, with a menacing, aggressive front and high tailfins. Barris decided it was a perfect base on which to create the Batmobile. Barris hired custom builder Gene Cushenberry to actually modify the car and in three weeks the car was ready and the show was immediately a hit, the car becoming one of the most recognizable icons of the 1960s and possibly Barris' most famous work.

Other television cars built by Barris Kustom Industries include the Munster coach and casket turned dragster (the Drag-U-La) for The Munsters (some say both were designed by Tom Daniels while working for Barris), an Oldsmobile Toronado turned into a roadster used in the first season of Mannix, a 1921 Oldsmobile touring car turned into a truck for The Beverly Hillbillies, the fictional "1928 Porter" for the NBC comedy My Mother the Car, Updated KITTs for later seasons of Knight Rider[ and replicas of 1914 Stutz Bearcats for Bearcats!.


Click on picture for full sized image.

Here are some more recent pictures of the 55 Chevy.

Please give me a call (260)403-5443 or email andy@fatmansgarage.com with any questions.