Production of automobiles in the United States during World War II was post-poned in favor of supporting the war effort and the creation of war materials. At the conclusion of the war, the automotive industry scrambled to create new products that the public may enjoy. Coachbuilders and craftsman found themselves with a dilemma - there were very few luxury chassis in which to use as a base to build their product. The producers of luxury automobiles that had survived and were still in business after the war had mostly transitioned to doing the work in-house rather than outsourcing to coachbuilders. Unit body construction was another factor squeezing out the trade of custom craftsmanship in the automotive industry.
The large American engines provided suitable amounts of torque to carry the large custom bodies of the luxury automobile. American's had persevered through the war and at the conclusion were ready to stimulate the economy by purchasing products. Those that had the money were willing to buy the higher priced automobile.
The 1948 Cadillac was a suitable platform for the coachbuilder due to its size, construction and L-Head V8 engine that produced 150 horsepower. Jacob Saoutchik saw an opportunity with the Cadillac opportunity and pursued the possibility of creating a custom, luxury, concept for the marque.
Saoutchik was born in 1880 near Minsk, Russia and emigrated with his family to Paris in 1899. He entered the business of furniture making. Seven years later he had become successful enough to purchase his own shop and soon entered the world of coach building. His creativity and designs evolved and his craftsmanship and quality were undeniable. His work was intertwined with the clients desires matted to his own ambition and creativity. Many of his vehicles had long hoods, flowing fenders, and low windshields. During the thirties he worked on perfecting the popular teardrop style that is one of the most breathtaking and memorable of all the designs ever created. The designs simulated motion even while standing still.
The 1948 Cadillac shown personifies the teardrop styles of the 1930's with the addition of modern touches and advanced styling techniques. The two-door convertible had seating for four and sat atop one of the larger chassis size the industry produced. The front and rear tires are mostly hidden by fender skirts which aid in the appearance of a smooth and flowing design.
Saoutchik produced two 1948 Cadillac's and both were sold to prominent individuals. The flamboyant color schemes matched the vehicles design and done in a tasteful manner.
The black and violet custom creation shown was offered for sale at the 2006 RM Auction held on Monterey, CA where it was expected to sell between $600,000-$800,000. The selling of the vehicle at the 2006 RM Auction was an excellent move, as its counterpart vehicle was being shown just miles away at the Pebble Beach Concours. The violet and black example is fitted with Marchal headlights, power soft top, and power windows. It is an excellent example of European coachwork and American engineering with a design that is indicative of both pre- and post-war inspiration.
At the conclusion of the auction the lot had been sold for $649,000.
In 2010, this Series 62 Custom Cabriolet was offered for sale at the Gooding & Company Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona. The car was estimated to sell for $500,000 - $600,000. As bidding came to a close, the lot had been sold for the sum of $649,000, inclusive of buyer's premium.Also photographed at :
Full-Custom Cadillac from France After World War II, European coachbuilders faced a most serious problem in that there were almost no luxury chassis on which to base their custom bodies. Separate body/chassis designs that lent themselves to coachwork were being replaced by unit-body construction. This made it difficult for coachbuilders to express their concepts. American luxury marques were a good option with separate body/chassis construction. Reasonably priced, with large engines and plenty of power, they could handle heavier, luxury coachwork. A coachbuilder who impressed an American maker with his design and construction capabilities could also possibly land subsequent design and prototyping work.
This 1948 Cadillac is an example of such a car. Powered by a 150 horsepower L-head, V8 engine, with 346 cubic-inch, and a full complement of factory-offered comfort and convenience features, it gave the coachbuilder an opportunity to show what he was still capable of doing. The design of this cabriolet, one of two Saoutchik custom-bodied 1948 Cadillac's, gives it the flow and proportions of a much more lithe automobile. Many design touches were employed specifically to mask elements which provided inherent cues to scale, particularly the skirted tires, which masked the wheels' size. The rear fender shape and chrome spear just above the beltline clear recall body design elements of earlier Cadillac's. It also featured a low windshield, complemented by blind rear top quarters, for a mildly formal look. From the side and rear view, the design of this extremely rare Saoutchik designed full-custom Cadillac cabriolet is especially attractive.
This custom Cadillac is one of two cars bodied by Jaques Saoutchik of Paris, France. Saoutchik was known for his extravagant designs, taking many risks with sweeping shapes and copious amounts of chrome.
The genius of Saoutchik's design on such a large chassis demonstrated in his ability to minimize the overall scale of the car by concealing the size of the wheels as well as using painted lines to reduce the height of the cowl.
The early owners of this car included Paul Kassoff and Louis Ritter. Mr. Ritter was the founder of Ritter Brothers Furriers of New York. he was well known for this extravagant wealth, flamboyant lifestyle and eccentric taste. There is no wonder why he chose such a car for his stables.