1957 Chevrolet El MoroccoSOLD

RM Auctions - Monterey Sports & Classic Car Auction - August 16-18

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Estimate: $75,000-$125,000 US

Offered Without Reserve

AUCTION RESULTS: Lot was Sold at a price of $77,000

220hp 283 cu. in. V8 engine, two-speed automatic transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs, live axle rear suspension with leaf springs and four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 115"

It has been said that Chevrolet enthusiasts can be divided into two groups – those who have never heard of the El Morocco – and those who are looking for one. The story of the car is a fascinating one, as there has been nothing similar, either before or since. It was, in fact, the first time an outside contractor had designed and built a customized Chevrolet model – which was then sold as a new car, reportedly with a full factory warranty.

El Moroccos were built in ’ 56 and ’ 57 – and they are the rarest Chevrolets ever built. Ten were built in 1956, and 16 more in 1957, in a mix of two and four door hardtops, and convertibles.

Founded by Canadian Reuben Allender, R. Allender and Company began in the surplus textile business. Like so many inspired customs, the concept was the pet project of a wealthy businessman who was fulfilling his dream of building his own car. A lifelong Cadillac buyer, Allender envisioned a smaller, lighter car that would be easier to drive, but would have the style and flash of the Cadillac.

The 1956 cars were redesigned ’ 56 Chevrolets made to resemble the ’ 55 and ’ 56 Cadillac El Dorado. The name came from a popular Manhattan night club – and the fact that only a few new letters had to be cast to change “ El Dorado ” into “ El Morocco ” . The ’ 56 El Morocco featured panels made of fiberglass, the new wonder material. These, plus a host of new trim parts and a variety of parts taken from Willys, Dodge, and Kaiser-Frazer completed the look.

The car was well received. Writing in the September 1956 issue of Motor Trend, author Don MacDonald said “ There should be ready acceptance. The public is already brainwashed into the belief that Cadillac's, and particularly Eldorado's, fins represent the epitome of motordom. Unfortunately, many believers can't afford the real thing; Eldorado sales do not reflect their true popularity. We can't help but agree with Allender that a Chevrolet-based miniature at $3250 complete. . . should be a hot seller."

For 1957, Allender began work on the new El Morocco. With Cadillac ’ s new top of the line Eldorado Brougham on the market, it was only natural that he would choose to emulate it with his car. Production troubles with the fiberglass body parts on the ’ 56 model led to the decision to construct the panels for the ’ 57 from steel. Metalwork changes were quite comprehensive, including removing and filling the 1957 ’ s rocket hood spears with steel, and welding on the the steel rear tail-fin extensions.

When the car was assembled, an Eldorado-style honeycomb grille was installed along with a new front bumper with relocated turn signals, and a special rear bumper with integral exhaust ports and chromed ‘ Dagmars ’ borrowed from the 1954 Mercury. The tail was finished with a unique ribbed rear license plate surround and twin rear taillights. The sides received new chromed lower rear quarter panels and side moldings with integrated air scoops.

Perhaps the most distinctive part of the package was the fins – which featured red taillight lenses borrowed from the 1956 Plymouth, and Brougham style rear edge moldings. The El Morocco badging and a set of custom wheel covers completed the conversion.

It is thought that just ten hardtop sedans were built, along with two hardtop coupes and two convertibles – a total of only sixteen cars. Of these, six are known to survive – two of each style. Part of the problem was the price – the conversion cost $800, which brought the El Morocco too close to the price of a base Cadillac. And yet, it is unlikely that Allender made any money on the process, given the costs involved in the conversions.

Today, these rare cars are unquestionably the most valuable of all ’ 56 and ’ 57 Chevrolets, and even the four door hardtops sell for more than most Cadillacs – a testimonial to the appeal and success of Allender ’ s vision. The example offered here is one of two known survivors, with the other forming part of a long term museum exhibit. It is an exceptional unrestored car, with mostly original paint, trim, and upholstery. The vendor acquired it recently from a long term owner as part of a multiple car purchase, and he has reluctantly decided to offer it for sale as a result of recent health problems.

He reports that the car runs well; just as Allender intended, it combines the lightness and handling of the Chevrolet – combined with the style and appeal of the Cadillac.

Reference Number 10066

as of 6/1/2007

Car 1957 Chevrolet El Morocco
VIN VC57N138419 
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