1949 Cadillac Series 75
Sold for $66,000 at 2009 Vintage Motor Cars of Hershey by RM Auctions.
Cadillac introduced rear tailfins on their 1948 models, which had been inspired by the P-38 Lighting aircraft used during World War II. The following year, the GM division announced the first two-door Hardtop (along with Buick and Oldsmobile) known as the Coupe deVille. A new engine was unveiled, a modern overhead valve V8 that boasted better performance and fuel economy along with smoother operation in a lighter, smaller displacement engine. The development for the engine had begun in 1936. When introduced, it was 200 pounds lighter, five inches shorter and four inches lower than the previous L-head V8.
The Series 75 was Cadillac's most luxurious and largest cars offered by the marque. They had the new engine and a revised dashboard that appeared on other Cadillac models. The most expensive bodystyle and model in the Cadillac line-up was the Series 75 Imperial Limousine which sold for $5,170 and was also one of the most exclusive with just 626 units created for 1949.
This example is painted in Antoinette Blue lacquer and was the beneficiary of an older complete frame-off restoration. There is a driver's compartment in black leather while the passenger compartment is upholster in wool broadcloth and Wilton wool carpeting. It placed 1st at the Cadillac-LaSalle Club Grand Nationals in 1989 and won an award at Meadow Brook in 1990. In 1991, it was chosen by the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) National Judges as one of the most exceptional automobiles in the country.
By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2009
In 2009, this Imperial Limousine was offered for sale at the Vintage Motor Cars of Hershey presented by RM Auctions where it was estimated to sell for $40,000 - $60,000 and offered without reserve. The lot was sold for the sum of $66,000, including buyer's premium.
Sold for $297,000 at 2011 Automobiles of Arizona by RM Auctions.
It is not unusual for movie stars and professional athletes to have a production car taken and modified to fit the owner's desires and purposes. It is also not too surprising that well known people will create a custom series of cars that will have certain hallmark touches. This is all very well known. Forgotten is that fact that during the golden age of filmmaking many of the movies were done on sets either at the studio itself or within a reasonable distance to the studio. In order for the film-studio to keep up its own appearance, actors, producers, directors and other important staff would be chauffeured around in the studio's own specially constructed series machines. The 1949 Cadillac Series 75 Custom Limousine that crossed the block at the RM Auction was one of those custom-built cars made for MGM.
MGM placed an order for six series 75 Cadillac chassis between 1947 and 1949. The order was placed with the local Beverly Hills dealer, Hillcrest Cadillac. The cars were then sent to famous craftsman Maurice Schwartz.
Schwartz, of the famous Bohman & Schwartz company, made a living at taking and building custom cars for famous movie stars and wealthy individuals throughout that time period. He had designed custom-built Duesenbergs for Clark Cable and Ethel Mars. He had even made special designs for Barbara Hutton and Rusty Heinz. Schwartz was also employed by the film studios to make special cars for films and other events. The Austrian born craftsman was especially adept to wood carpentry and fashioning beautiful wood-framed bodies and trimmed automobiles. It is for this special skill Schwartz was employed by MGM and Hillcrest.
The car offered at the 2011 RM Auction in Arizona is the last of the six MGM Cadillacs custom-built by Maurice Schwartz and it is believed to be the only one still in existence. From a distance, the car appears to be similar to that of the Fleetwood-bodied production cars, but, Schwartz's craftsmanship was to a whole different level. Following the lines of the original bodywork of the Cadillacs, Schwartz styled heavily customized and contoured wood paneling that blended beautifully with the rest of the car's design.
While it is different than other works by Schwartz, it does have hallmarks of his work. The fenders of the car are similar to another of Schwartz's works, specifically Gene Autry's six-door wood-body fastback limo. In addition, another of Schwartz's hallmarks is the roof rack, which this car also has.
This car has undergone a good deal of restoration throughout its life to get it into the condition it is today, for it did not sit idle during its life, at least not idle in a climate-controlled building. The car suffered an accident and rested abandoned in the brush for more than a decade until it was rescued. The beautiful wood had deteriorated badly.
In the 1980s five Sacramento men bought it with the intention of restoring it. Al Robbins headed up the group and was skilled in wood craftsmanship. He began fashioning new body panels out of ash and mahogany. Originally, the car was refinished in a red paint scheme. Robbins repaired the roof of the car and installed a roof rack reconstructed from parts from another car. The car had rolled a couple of times during the accident decades back and the roof was badly damaged.
The project was taking a good deal of time and was also costing a good deal of money. This led to each of the Sacramento men, with the exception of Robbins, to drop out of the project. This led to the car being purchased by John White for his Ramshead Collection. While part of the Ramshead Collection the car went through meticulous restoration work until it was completed into its present form.
The interior was almost entirely redone, using Hogshead carpeting and Bedford cord with alligator trim. One of the many little details the Ramshead staff performed on the car was having MGM logos placed on the interior of the rear doors.
The car also went through a thorough rebuild of all of its mechanical components. The car's 160 bhp, 331 cubic inch V-8 engine went through an entire overhaul. Its four-speed Hydra-Matic transmission also went through a thorough overhaul. The red finish remained, however.
In the mid-1990s the car was purchased from Ramshead and was re-finished in a beautiful dark green color. Though not in its original black finish, overall, the car is a very attractive Series 75. A lot of hard work and love has been poured into this rare custom car. Much of its intriguing history and custom features makes it an eye-catcher. It is a wonderful canvas in which to reflect, remember and enjoy the genious and craftsmanship of Maurice Schwartz and the golden era of film-making. Sources:
'Buy: Featured Lots (Lot 253: 1949 Cadillac Series 75 Custom Limousine)', (http://www.rmauctions.com/FeatureCars.cfm?SaleCode=AZ11&CarID=r215). RM Auctions Arizona. http://www.rmauctions.com/FeatureCars.cfm?SaleCode=AZ11&CarID=r215. Retrieved 4 January. By Jeremy McMullen
Sold for $297,000 at 2011 Automobiles of Arizona by RM Auctions.
Between 1947 and 1949, MGM Studios ordered six Series 75 Cadillac sedans from Hillcrest Cadillac, in Beverly Hills. The cars were then dispatched to Maurice Schwartz, for custom coachwork. This 1949 model was the sixth. Like other MGM cars, it was used to transport actors and support staff to-and-from location shoots.
Sometime in the late 1950's, while on a trip to Big Bear Lake, near San Bernardino, the driver missed a turn, the car left the road, rolled over and sustained body damage. It was abandoned and sat in the brush for a decade, the wooden portions of the body deteriorating.
Believing it was the last of the six, a Los Angeles collector bought the car who managed to reconstruct the ash framed doors, the B-pillars and repair the damaged body. It was finished in dark red, as opposed to the original black. In the late 1980s, it was sold to John Waite in Sacramento, where it was upgraded and refinished in the current color. The current owners acquired the car in 2011.
The Cadillac Series 75 was the marque's flagship V8 from 1936 onwards, though the lower priced series easily outsold it. Production of the full-size V8 powered Cadillac's would continue from the 1930s through the 1950s. It served as a replacement for the outgoing 355-D and was introduced around the same time as the less-expensive Series 60 model. Outwardly, the Series 80, including the 85, were similar in appearance with the main difference being underhood. The Series 80/85 featured a V12 engine while the Series 70/75 had a V8. The V8 produced 135 horsepower while the V12's output was 150 hp.
In 1941, the short wheelbase Series 70 was replaced by the Series 62 and the long wheelbase Series 75 was integrated into the Fleetwood line. Cadillac would continue the '75' name until the mid 1960s.
The V8 Series 70 of the mid 1930s were powered by a Monoblock V8 engine that displaced 346 cubic-inches and produced 135 horsepower. A total of 5,248 examples were sold in 1936. There were three body-styles available for the Series 70 from 1936 through 1937 consisting of a 131-inch wheelbase for the 36-70, a 138-inch version of the 36-75 and a large 156-inch platform for the 36-75 Commercial version.
There were a wide variety of body-styles to select from and all wore badges of Cadillac's in-house coachbuilder Fleetwood. The list ranged from two-passenger coupes to seven-passenger town cars with 14 cataloged styles offered.
The Fleetwood Metal Body Company had a history that dated back to 1905 when they were formed in Fleetwood, Pennsylvania. During their early years, some of their best customers were Packard, Pierce-Arrow and Cadillac. Lawrence Fisher, head of GM's Fisher Body Company and later president of Cadillac was pleased with Fleetwood's coach-building work and felt the union between the two companies was appropriate. The company was purchased by Cadillac in 1925 and the sales and design offices were moved to Detroit. Additional plants were built in Pennsylvania for body production and Fleetwood continued to accept body-requests from non-GM companies.
A Fleetwood plant was built in 1929 in Detroit, adjacent to the Fisher Body facility, and by 1931 all production had migrated to this location. Later, the production was absorbed by General Motors Art & Colour and Fisher Body. The Fleetwood name persisted for many decades, often referring to limited and low-production styles.
In 1939 the Cadillac V8 models were given a new frontal look with a matching textured grille. On either side were two side grilles. The engine still displaced 346 cubic-inches but further tuning had increased the horsepower output and its compression.
The Series 72 was a Fleetwood car that rode on a shorter, 138-inch wheelbase.
Production ceased during the Second World War and resumed in 1946. When it did, the Series 75 became Cadillac's largest model offered; now riding on a 136-inch wheelbase. The 346 L-head V8 engine was the same as was most of its basic styling. Just like most other automakers, a 'new' model would not be introduced for several years.
For the Series 75, this did not occur until 1950. It had a 146.7 inch wheelbase with seating for seven. Engine options included a 346- and 365-cubic-inch V8.
The wheelbase size was again increased by 1954, now measuring 149.8 inches. To carry the extra weight Cadillac increased the horsepower to 230. The following year it rose again to 250 hp, with an optional dual-four barrel carburetor version offered that produced 270 horsepower. 1956 saw another increase in horsepower, now ranging from 285 to just over 300.
Another restyling occurred in 1957 and would remain until 1965. By now, the name '75' had all but disappeared. Horsepower hovered around the 300 to 325 range depending on the engine and the setup. The long version of the Fleetwood became known as the Series 6700 in accordance with the new Cadillac naming scheme.By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2008