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1915 Cadillac Model 51
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1915 Cadillac Model 51 information
Bonhams & Butterfields Sale of Exceptional Motorcars and Automobilia
C.P. Kimball & Co
Engine Num: A-10077
Sold for $139,000 at
This 1915 Cadillac Model 51 Four-Door Saloon wears coachwork courtesy of C.P. Kimball & Co. It was commissioned in 1915 from an individual from Caro, Michigan named W.J. Moore, a cousin of the celebrated American inventor Elisha Gray, who invented and patented many electrical devices and founded the company that became Western Electric. At the age of 21, Moore had established the Moore Telephone Manufacturing Company and the Moore Telephone System, and in 1892 offered the first telephone service in south-east Michigan.
Within a few years, he had built a thriving telephone network across his local area. His successful ventures meant he became one of the first motorists in Michigan, ordering a 4.5-hp De Dion-Bouton Voiturette from Paris in 1899. It is said that when he drove it to Michigan, it was thoroughly examined by Henry Ford, who was working on one of his early prototypes.
Moore placed his order for the Cadillac Model 51 on March 9th of 1915. Though most of the Cadillac 51's were sold complete with bodywork on the standard 122-inch wheelbase chassis, a long wheelbase version, measuring 145-inches, was available at a cost of $1850.
Two days later, his chassis arrived at the Bay City Auto Company in Bay City, MI. He specifically asked for oversize cylinders, low final drive ratio, 37x5 tires, and Universal demountable rims.
The coachwork was performed by the well-established firm of C.P. Kimball coachworks in Chicago. It had a history that dated back to 1877 as a buggy builder.
To make the car more comfortable in the winter, Moore equipped his car with a unique heating system concealed in a specially-extended hood cover that funneled warm air from the radiator into the body of the car. Electric fans were positioned above the rear seats to ensure proper circulation of the air within the car.
The car remained in Moore's care his entire life. In 1950, it won a silver trophy at the Wisconsin Centennial in Milwaukee. Upon his death, his widow disposed of the car. It went to a Chevrolet-Oldsmobile dealership where it became a display car. it was given a modern Cadillac engine, as the original engine had suffered major damage. In 1975 the car was imported into England by the pioneering old car dealership Antique Automobiles Ltd, who completely restored the original V8 engine for the new owner, a major European collector, and re-installed it in the car.
It has been in its present ownership for over 30 years. In 2008, it was offered for sale at the 'Quail Lodge, A Sale of Exceptional Motorcars and Automobilia' presented by Bonhams Auction. It was estimated to sell for $150,000 - $200,000. As the gavel fell for the third and final time, the lot remained unsold.
By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2008