The long and fabulous history of the automobile includes innumerable exotic and eccentric cars created by people who were… exotic and eccentric. There’s perhaps no more eloquent example of this than the car you see here, the 1967 Mohs Ostentatienne Opera Sedan.
Bruce Mohs, the man behind this car, could just as fairly be qualified as genius and madman, probably both is closest to the truth. One thing’s for sure, his creation was a car not of its time. The Ostentatienne was not just luxurious, it laid it on a little too thick. In the end, it attracted very little interest from buyers.
Now, if the car had come along in the late 90s, when it was de rigueur for Hollywood royalty to have Cadillac Escalades and Lincoln Navigators parked in their massive driveways, it may have been more warmly received.
If drawing attention was your game, what better way to do it than with this caricature of a luxury car?
None that we can think of.
The Mohs Ostentatienne Opera Sedan sits on the chassis of International’s Travelall truck, and rides on 20-inch wheels. The engine powering it is a 304-cc V8 making 250 hp.
That’s not a lot of horses to propel a 6,100-lb vehicle. From the outlook of today, many wonder why Mohs didn’t equip his monster with International’s 392-cc V8 engine, but we’re thinking that unit was not yet available at the time of the Ostentatienne’s conception.
In fact, while the Ostentatienne was officially a 1967 model, the first drawings and design ideas date back to several years before then.
The true craziness of the model, meanwhile, lies in its features. Start with how to get into it. This can be done only from the rear via a door reminiscent of what you see in private planes. That theme continues inside, as the cabin and the placement of the seats are clearly inspired by the cabin of a plane.
Space inside is appropriately massive, particularly headroom. Bruce Mohs was preoccupied with safety, and he sought to create an environment that protected passengers in the event of a collision.
Strangely, in front the space for the driver is quite restrained despite the cavernous interior. In return, however, occupants get to make use of the 110-volt plug and the fridge hidden in the dashboard.
The asking price for the Ostentatienne, in 1967, was $19,600 USD - quite a fortune at the time.
The Ostentatienne remained the property of its creator until his death in 2015; today the car sits in an automotive museum in Illinois. It was restored in 2009 by two schools in Wisconsin, the home state of Bruce Mohs’ company HQ.
If the styling of the car seems familiar to you, know that Bruce Mohs actually devised another model in 1972. The SafariKar was if anything even more eccentric than the Ostentatienne, and we had the chance to see it up close at the annual automotive gathering in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Three model of the Safarikar were produced between 1972 and 1979.
In a way, the Ostentatienne is the answer to the question of just how nutty car designs can get in the right (or wrong) hands. If nothing else, we salute Bruce Mohs’ daring and willingness to follow through on his vision!