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April 26, 2013

A Car That has Everything, 1952

Louie Mattar, who turned his 1947 Cadillac into a how-to guide for four-wheeled DIYers everywhere. As LIFE told its readers in a March 1952 article, “A Car That has Everything,” Mattar was “a San Diego garage owner with a big imagination.”
"When he bought a brand new Cadillac four years ago, the extra equipment his dealer offered was not enough and Mattar started to add a weird assortment of things that other motorists can only dream of.
Doing most of the work himself, he put in a shower, coiling the pipes from his 50-gallon water tanks around the exhaust manifold for the hot water. A pumping system was crammed under the hood. Next to the taillight went a drinking fountain and under the dashboard a tape recorder and a bar with spigots for whisky, water and soda. In the back seat he put a washing machine, a stove and even included a kitchen sink. All this took four years to do and cost Mattar better than $14,000."
One additional note: Later that year, in Sept. 1952, Mattar’s ultra-tricked-out Caddy set a world endurance non-stop record (since eclipsed) when three drivers, working in shifts, traveled round-trip from San Diego to New York and back — 6,300 miles — in one week. It later traveled — virtually non-stop, due to Mattar’s innovations that allowed it to refuel while driving, etc. — from Anchorage, Alaska, to Mexico City. Today, Mattar’s wild ride is on display at the San Diego Automotive Museum in Balboa Park.

Louis Mattar with his 1947 Cadillac, San Diego, 1952.

Louis Mattar pulls the makings of a meal from the trunk of his heavily modified 1947 Cadillac, San Diego, 1952.

Washing is done by small machine in back seat. Two batteries provide extra electricity.

Louis Mattar hangs washing from his heavily modified 1947 Cadillac.

Ironing is easy for Mrs. Mattar with arm rest as board. Toaster or razor can be plugged in here.

Louis Mattar enjoys a pull on the water pipe he installed in his heavily modified 1947 Cadillac.

Jackie Smithwick, friend of the Mattars', takes a warm water shower next to front fender.

A boy drinks from a water fountain that Louis Mattar installed in his 1947 Cadillac.

Plugged into Louis Mattar's heavily modified 1947 Cadillac.

Cooking hot dogs, Mattar uses homemade stove which slides forward into the back seat from trunk.

A picnic on the beach, courtesy of Louis Mattar's tricked-out 1947 Cadillac.
(Photos: Ed ClarkTime & Life Pictures/Getty Images)




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