Big News...1941 Cadillac "Duchess" Limo in Auction

Started by Tom Gibson, October 25, 2013, 08:44:51 AM

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Tom Gibson

#20
David,

It's pretty amazing that the rear compartment cabinetry survived as well as it did, as your pics indicate. It won't happen, but I'd love to see the period documentation that comes with the car, the newsreel footage, press images of the couple with the car, etc. I really enjoy research, and Morgan must have had a great time assembling it.

Bob and all,

The body of the auction text notes Buick's use in '42 of the flow-through fenderline, and how the "Duchess" influenced that design. But only two-door Sedanets and the convertible used that design cue in '42, as C-Body sedans would have to wait till '46 for that treatment (used till '48). A couple of points; in '41 when the car was constructed, the plans for both the flowing fender/door and the '42 Fleetwood's roofline would have been locked in for some time. I've read where Buick was having difficulty hanging the sedan doors to make them work properly, and apparently the Duke's Cadillac solved those issues, but not in time for '42 production. As for the dramatic roof, how cool would it be if Morgan found images of some of the wooden bucks used to form that roof and the other panels! (I assume he did).

There is virtually no surface interruption of the car's fluid, gorgeous design, with the only trim being rocker panels and stone guards. I'm sure you've noticed the front antenna...center-mounted, swing-away above the windshield (first used by Buick in '40), rather than the fender-mount style of the '41 Cadillac? Only the rear-mounted antenna breaks the body's flowing perfection. Through his friendship with Mr. Sloan, it's pretty obvious that the Duke had full-access to GM design studios and got to pick what he liked. Sloan also knew the car would car generate gobs of publicity, and be a rolling billboard and testament to GM's power and prowess.

What I find especially interesting is that, even though wartime production was gearing up, few knew auto production would be fully-curtailed in a few short months from the car's delivery. The "Duchess" pointed the way forward, its modernity still fresh all through the war years and beyond. Her beauty really is timeless, and many, many thanks to Morgan for rescuing it.

TG

Jeff Wilk

"Impossible Only Describes The Degree Of Difficulty" 

Southern New Jersey

1959 Cadillac Fleetwood Sixty Special
1975 Eldorado Convertible (#12 made)
1976 Cadillac Mirage (factory authorized Pick-Up)
1933 Phaeton Chevrolet - "Baby Cadillac"
1933 Master Sedan Chevrolet - "Baby Cadillac"

SOLD
1958 Cadillac Sixty-Special
1958 Cadillac Sixty-Special
1958 Cadillac Sedan
1958 Cadillac Coupe Deville

Ralph Messina CLC 4937

Jeff,

This is complicated because of the car’s uniqueness and provenance. Here goes my rationale.

The pros are: It’s a close coupled limousine, an excellent example of post Deco modern, exquisitely restored and personalized and owned by a major celebrity of the 30’s and 40’s.

The cons are: It’s a closed car that really can’t be driven much and will likely be a museum or concours ribbon magnet. The celebrity connection is not meaningful to many folks today. The two celebrities are from 75 years ago which is a geological time frame today.
Furthermore the Duke was from the UK and his “scandal” was loving someone who was not royalty.  (Today that sentence sounds unintelligible)

With that, I’d say the car will sell for north of a number 1 ’57-8 Eldorado Brougham,  between $200 and $225M

I have a peerless record in such evaluations. In the late 80’s I held no to my IBM stock rather than invest in a friend’s PC rental start up. I was certain he’d lose his shirt because no one needed a computer on their desk. Now I have a job ironing his shirts.

Ralph
1966 Fleetwood Brougham-with a new caretaker http://bit.ly/1GCn8I4
1966 Eldorado-with a new caretaker  http://bit.ly/1OrxLoY
2018 GMC Yukon

Morgan Murphy

Hey Folks:

Many thanks for your kind words about the Duchess.  Since the car hasn't really been seen by the public since 1952, I've been mum about it hoping to make a big media splash when we took the covers off the old girl.  Happily, it worked: she's already appeared in 145 newspapers around the world this week.

The rear stone guard and wheels, are of course, fully chromed. And that tailpipe doesn't hang down low.  All the cars for the auction were shot by the same noted photographer, whose vision was to document them from the height of about 12 inches. I don't think Harley Earl meant this car to be viewed on your belly in the dark, but I digress.  In any event, soon you'll see more photos soon which better reflect the authenticity of the restoration.

When I bought the car, I wasn't even positive she was the actual, long-missing, Duchess.  I can't tell you how exciting it was to find that all the numbers matched.  Then to find the title, then to get the package from the GM Historical Archives with Sloan's name on the delivery manifest, then to find a picture of the couple in the car, then to find historic newsreel footage of the day it was delivered, etc.  Just researching the car took a solid year. But to me, a journalist by trade, the thrill is the hunt and piecing together the history and story of the car.  I've talked to all of the owners except the Duke himself.

There are so many people to thank in the club who gave excellent advice and helped me piece this challenge back together over the last three years.  It absolutely could not have been possible without the CLC, the authenticity manual, and the advice, support, and general well-wishing of people like Whitney Otis, Terry Wenger, Robert Schuman, David King, Ron Van Gelderen, Walter Youshock, Roy Schneider, Yann Saunders,  Jim Jordan, and many, many others.

If any CLC member is in New York on November 19th-21st, I'd love you to be my guest at the auction, see the Duchess, and help calm my nerves as she crosses the block!

Morgan
"If the man wants to buy a Cadillac, let the man buy a Cadillac."
J.M. Murphy, 1959

Ralph Messina CLC 4937

Morgan,

You invitation for CLC members to join you was very thoughtful and generous.....wish I could.

I just checked the RM Catalog for more pics of the car. The estimated selling price is $500-800M. My post above estimating a $200-225M WAG price proves  my prowess at getting it wrong is still intact.

Ralph
1966 Fleetwood Brougham-with a new caretaker http://bit.ly/1GCn8I4
1966 Eldorado-with a new caretaker  http://bit.ly/1OrxLoY
2018 GMC Yukon

Morgan Murphy

Hey Ralph,

Your guess is as good as anyone's.  I'm selling it "no reserve," so there's no telling--she may go for $75,000.  (God forbid).  By the way, the car made the Daily Mail in England today.  Check this article's pictures:

Cadillac called The Duchess, made for Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, set to fetch £500,000 after 60 years out of the public eye

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2476915/Cadillac-The-Duchess-Edward-VIII-Wallis-Simpson-set-fetch-500k.html#ixzz2j874Icug
"If the man wants to buy a Cadillac, let the man buy a Cadillac."
J.M. Murphy, 1959

Tom Gibson

Morgan,

Wonderful story and pics in the Daily Mail. And a great publicity roll-out, too! The Duchess wasn't in the NYC teaser item RM gave out at Hershey (what a surprise when the news broke), and I look forward to seeing her on the nightly news or other broadcasts.

Did the newsreel footage you found come from the Paley Center? (I keep wanting to call it the Museum of Broadcasting).
Just curious,

Tom Gibson

Whit Otis, 1188

Morgan,

Many thanks for your kind remarks and mentioning those of us who emailed and spoke with you about the Duchess and the many details that went into your magnificent restoration project.  I certainly enjoyed the friendship we developed and wished we would have had the time to meet face to face during the work.

I must confess, I was surprised to see The Duchess up for sale so soon.  I had not only hoped to see the finished product in person, but also that we would have the chance to show your car and Mr. Sloan's car together, given the styling similarities.  Alas, as you know, I have been two years building a garage for Mr. Sloan’s car and you certainly moved your restoration project along much more quickly than I.

Congratulations on a fantastic car and we'll all be rooting for you in November.

Best Wishes
Whit Otis
Whit Otis -
1941 6219D Custom
1941 6219D
1940 7533F
1948 6069X
1985 Eldorado Biarritz
1999 Bentley Arnage
2019 XT5
Drawing of AP Sloan Custom by Terry Wenger

Barry M Wheeler #2189






























I've  kind of sat on this info as I had prior news of it over a month ago. But since the new S/S will be out soon, I thought I could spill the beans. Every CLC member will have a memento of this car in that RM purchased the back page of the S/S for Nov/Dec to publicize this auction. it will also complement my article about two full custom 60Ss inside. Enjoy!








Barry M. Wheeler #2189


1981 Cadillac Seville
1991 Cadillac Seville

Terry Wenger

Morgan:

The Duchess looks terrific, Glad I could help a little and thanks for the kind remarks. I knew you wouldn't forget the chrome rims! Good Luck in yoyur sale.

Terry Wenger
Terry Wenger CLC #1800
tewv16@sbcglobal.net
1932 355B TSD
1939 7557
1940 60S
1941 60S
1947 6267 Conv.
1949 6207X Coupe
1963 60S

Jeff Hansen

#30
Just listened to the auction of The Duchess online.  The top bid was $415,000.  The car did not sell (a reserve price was added prior to the auction).  Morgan, I'm sorry it did not work out for you.

Jeff
Jeff Hansen
1941 6019S Sixty Special
1942 7533 Imperial Sedan

Walter Youshock

#31
This wasn't the only car to not make reserve.  As for "The Duchess", no car was better represented at Sotheby's.  Morgan had a video montage of original Newsreels, photos, and the restored car in action.  Overall, there were some rather shocking low-ball prices through the entire auction.

Photos DO NOT do this car justice.  It simply INCREDIBLE. 

The door and window handles are Lucite over chrome. 
CLC #11959 (Life)
1957 Coupe deVille
1991 Brougham

Morgan Murphy

Thanks Walter--while the auction fell flat (60 percent of the lots didn't make their low estimates), I was excited to unveil the car in her hometown.  In fact, the Duchess made three major networks last Thursday (ABC, FOX, and Reuters).  Those reporters had a lot of iron to choose from in that show, but wanted to be standing in front of a Cadillac!  I was proud so many of the guests got to see what makes 41 Cadillacs so truly remarkable.

Standard of the world!

"If the man wants to buy a Cadillac, let the man buy a Cadillac."
J.M. Murphy, 1959

Walter Youshock

Despite the outcome, it was still one for the record books.

I was fortunate enough to be there early Thursday morning pre-auction when professional photographers were doing interior shots with the doors open, so I got as many photos as I could  (no, I didn't open them--as much as I wanted to!)
CLC #11959 (Life)
1957 Coupe deVille
1991 Brougham

Andrew Armitage

Simply fantastic! I hope to be able to see The Duchess in person someday.

Morgan, I'm glad that you were able to save and faithfully restore such a noteworthy piece of Cadillac history. Even beyond that, it is a beautiful work of art in its own right. Well done sir.
Andrew Armitage
Plainfield, IL
1941 67 Series
1966 Fleetwood 75 Series
1985 Seville
1991 Eldorado