Arizona

19-20 January 2017

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Lot 233

1933 Chrysler CL Imperial Dual-Windshield Phaeton by LeBaron

  • Serial no. 7803613
  • Body no. 172-35

Sold for $258,500


135 hp, 385 cu. in. L-head inline eight-cylinder engine with nine main bearings, three-speed manual transmission with vacuum-assisted clutch, leaf-spring and beam axle front suspension, leaf-spring and live axle rear suspension, and vacuum-assisted four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 146 in.

  • One of fewer than 20 authentic survivors
  • Originally delivered to powerboat racer Lou Fageol
  • Formerly owned by Turhan Bey, Jack Passey, and Laurence “Baron” Dorcy
  • Well-known history from new


Lou Fageol was one of the most colorful and legendary figures in motorsport, on land, and on the water. He built and piloted some of the fastest speedboats around, collecting many prestigious trophies, and he built race cars as well (including Indy 500 contenders). He was known as a hard-driving competitor and he won many important powerboat races. His boat racing career ended in 1955 when the craft he was piloting at speeds well in excess of 100 mph became airborne and performed a perfect backwards aerial somersault, a “loop-the-loop” before returning to the water and coasting to a stop . . . . He survived the serious injuries he sustained in that accident, and retired from racing. Until his death in 1961, he was, in the words of American Boat Racing Association historian Fred Farley, a “respected elder statesman of the sport he loved.”

– Christopher Cummings, Cadillac V-16s: Lost and Found

Throughout the history of modern American athletics, the men and women of daring-do have always had one thing in common: the pursuit of power. Those who flew fast planes, loved fast cars; those who raced fast cars, owned fast boats. Lou Fageol was no exception to this rule, and when not on the water, his road car was a new 1933 Chrysler CL Imperial dual-windshield phaeton, that offered here. It was one of the best-engineered automobiles of its era, a car so wonderful to drive that many of the fewer than 20 known survivors are still on the road being enjoyed.

After about a year, Fageol had his shop fit the car with a 1930 Cadillac V-16 engine, number 700132, along with associated adjustments to the chassis and suspension. The combination of the more potent 175 horsepower V-16 with the Imperial chassis and body (1,000 pounds lighter than the Cadillac) made for what Fageol termed “an excellent high-performance highway automobile,” which suited its thrill-seeking owner and driver quite nicely.

With its V-16 fitted, the Fageol Imperial next passed to Hollywood film actor Turhan Bey, and subsequently to a student at Stanford University, who sold it in the early 1950s to the late, legendary Northern California collector and enthusiast, Jack Passey. Passey, in turn, traded the car to Earl Hill and Dick Wells, who sold it to Laurence Dorcy.

Better known to one and all by his favored nickname, Baron, Mr. Dorcy was the grandson of Great Northern Railroad magnate James J. Hill and lived the fabulous life of a millionaire eccentric. A passionate enthusiast of automobiles, sailing yachts, and aircraft, he collected and piloted all three with vigor well into his dotage, living a carefree life in Maui. Such was Baron Dorcy’s passion for the Fageol Imperial that, over the next 50 years, he would come to own the car two further times, always buying it back after he sold it. The current owner, a longtime friend and neighbor, was actually the last to sell the car to Dorcy, in trade for a Duesenberg in 2001, and re-acquired it from Dorcy’s estate 10 years later.

The Imperial was restored between 1985 and 1987 by Harold Orchard, a well-known craftsman in Southern California, famous for his award-winning restorations during this period. More recently, during Baron Dorcy’s final ownership, the car had the engine hood correctly replaced, and the body was refinished in its present brilliant scarlet, matching the hue it wore when Dorcy first acquired it in the 1950s. Most recently, it has undergone further cosmetic restoration and, somewhat poignantly, the installation of a period-correct CH Imperial engine, very similar to the original CL unit that first powered the car in 1933.

The car has been well-known to the Chrysler Imperial community for decades. It is described in Christopher Cummings’ aforementioned book, Cadillac V-16s: Lost and Found, and is pictured in the book on Jack Passey’s automobiles, For the Love of Old Cars by Ken Albert. Furthermore, it is listed in the compendium of original CL Imperial phaetons published by George Tissen in 1980, documenting its provenance as a genuine example. The numbers of the two V-16 engines it carried in-period are known, and it is possible one may still exist, should a new owner choose to return the car to its “Fageol” configuration.

Surviving CL Imperial dual-windshield phaetons are widely held as among the most beautiful and desirable American Classics. Few, however, have the rather spectacular, unlikely, and wonderful history of the example offered here, which has been owned and driven since new by utterly fascinating individuals, and has accrued a lifetime of amazing stories.

Addendum

Please note that this vehicle is now being offered without reserve.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

Cameron Smyth

csmyth@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Cameron Smyth joined RM Sotheby’s as a Car Specialist in 2015, working out of our corporate office and providing assistance on c... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more