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My Mother the Car is an Americanmarker television situation comedy which aired for a single season on NBC between September 14, 1965 and September 6, 1966. Thirty episodes were produced in all, produced by United Artists Television.

Critics and adult viewers generally panned the show, often savagely. In 2002, TV Guide proclaimed it to be the second-worst of all time, just behind The Jerry Springer Show. The show's co-creator, Allan Burns, went on to create some of the most critically acclaimed shows in television history, including The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda, and Lou Grant. Renowned television producer James L. Brooks, who later collaborated with Burns on all of these series, created series such as Room 222 and Taxi, and served as executive producer of The Simpsons, got his start in television sitcoms on My Mother the Car, when he was called upon to rewrite a script for an episode of the series. The other co-creator of My Mother the Car, Chris Hayward, produced and wrote for Barney Miller during its first several seasons.


The show follows the exploits of attorney David Crabtree (played by Jerry Van Dyke), who, while shopping at a used car lot for a station wagon to serve as a second family car, instead purchases a dilapidated 1928 "Porter" touring car. Crabtree heard the car call his name in a woman's voice which turned out to be that of his deceased mother, Gladys (voiced by Ann Sothern). The car, a valuable antique, is a reincarnation of his mother who talks (only to Crabtree, of course) through the car's radio. The dial light flashed in sequence with "Mother's" voice. In an effort to get his family to accept the old, tired car, Crabtree brings it to a custom body shop for a full restoration, which in turn brings it to the attention of a rather shifty car collector.

For the rest of the series, Crabtree is pursued by the avaricious Captain Manzini (Avery Schreiber), who is determined to acquire the valuable automobile from Crabtree. In a running gag characterizing his shifty nature, Manzini (who resembles a 1920s silent film villain) always mispronounces Crabtree's name when speaking to him. "Now, then, Crabapple..." "That's Crabtree." "Whatever."

Others in the cast included Maggie Pierce as wife Barbara and Cindy Eilbacher (the sister of Lisa Eilbacher) and Randy Whipple as the kids, Cindy and Randy.

My Mother the Car belonged to the genre of "wacky" TV sitcoms popular at the time that featured supernatural characters and cartoonish situations, such as Bewitched and My Favorite Martian, but it failed and for many years afterward was widely ridiculed as the quintessential "worst show of all time," though many competitors have vied for that title since then. It did not help that the highly respected Dick Van Dyke Show, starring Jerry's brother, was still on the air at the time on another network. Audience demographics was an emerging science in the mid-1960s. My Mother the Car was a hit with younger viewers, but no one at the time knew just how to exploit the youth market with a live-action sitcom.

The show was created by Allan Burns and Chris Hayward, who had better success with Rocky & Bullwinkle, The Munsters, and Get Smart (which debuted the same season). AMT Corporation, a producer of plastic model kits, introduced a 1/25-scale model kit of the Porter in late 1965.

The current owner of the show is Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer which bought United Artists in 1981, currently owned by Sony Pictures.

The composer of the theme music was Paul Hampton. It was used on an episode of Arrested Development also called My Mother, the Car.

The Car

The car used in the show was an amalgam of different cars. "Mother" was built by Barris Kustom Industries and was powered by a 283 cubic inch (4.6 L) Chevrolet V8 and Powerglide automatic transmission. The carnation red body with white top was created from parts of a Model T, a Maxwell, a Hudson and a Chevrolet. Mother's hood, radiator shell and "Porter" radiator script were custom made. The design was anachronistic in many ways, with features from vehicles of the early 1920s and even the 1910s.

In order to create the illusion that the car was driverless whenever "Mother" drove it, a second car with its floorboards removed was used. The driver could then be placed out of sight and could drive the stunt car with the aid of mirrors. "Mother" number one, the stunt car, is currently on display at Tennessee'smarker Star Cars Museum. Number two is in the hands of private collector David Bodnar of Edmonton, Albertamarker. The Porter wore a genuine yellow-on-black California license plate with the number PZR 317 throughout the show's run, a sequence that would have been current in 1965.


  • Jerry Van Dyke as Dave Crabtree
  • Maggie Pierce as Barbara Crabtree
  • Ann Sothern as 1928 Porter (Gladys Crabtree)
  • Avery Schreiber as Captain Bernard Manzini
  • Cindy Eilbacher as Cindy Crabtree
  • Randy Whipple as Randy Crabtree

Episode List

  1. "Come Honk Your Horn" (9/14/65)
  2. "The De-Fenders" (9/21/65)
  3. "What Makes Auntie Freeze" (9/28/65)
  4. "Lassie, I Mean Mother, Come Home" (10/5/65)
  5. "Burned at the Steak" (10/12/65)
  6. "I'm Through Being a Nice Guy" (10/19/65)
  7. "Lights, Camera, Mother" (10/25/65)
  8. "The Captain Manzini Grand Prix" (11/2/65)
  9. "TV or Not TV" (11/9/65)
  10. "My Son, the Ventriloquist" (11/16/65)
  11. "My Son, the Judge" (11/23/65)
  12. "And Leave the Drive-In to Us" (11/30/65)
  13. "For Whom the Horn Honks" (12/7/65)
  14. "Hey Lady, Your Slip Isn't Showing" (12/14/65)
  15. "Many Happy No-Returns" (12/21/65)
  16. "Shine On, Shine On, Honeymoon" (12/28/65)
  17. "I Remember Mama, Why Can't You Remember Me?" (1/4/66)
  18. "Goldporter" (1/11/66)
  19. "The Incredible Shrinking Car" (1/18/66)
  20. "I'd Rather Do it Myself, Mother" (1/25/66)
  21. "You Can't Get There From Here" (2/1/66)
  22. "A Riddler on the Roof" (2/8/66)
  23. "My Son, the Criminal" (2/15/66)
  24. "An Unreasonable Facsimile" (2/22/66)
  25. "Over the Hill to the Junkyard" (3/1/66)
  26. "It Might as Well Be Spring as Not" (3/8/66)
  27. "Absorba the Greek" (3/15/66)
  28. "The Blabbermouth" (3/22/66)
  29. "When You Wish Upon a Car" (3/29/66)
  30. "Desperate Minutes" (4/5/66)


All 30 episodes are available for viewing on There are currently no plans to release it on DVD by MGM Home Entertainment, who owns the rights.


  1. The Worst TV Shows Ever, 'The Jerry Springer Show' Tops TV Guide's List Of Worst Shows - CBS News

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