Automobiles of Amelia Island

13 March 2010

From the Estate of Mr. John O'Quinn

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Lot 154

1931 Chrysler CG Imperial Convertible Victoria by Waterhouse

Sold for $522,500

125 bhp, 384.8 cu. in. eight-cylinder L-head engine, four-speed manual overdrive transmission with free-wheeling, solid front axle and live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 145"

Although the first car to bear Walter Chrysler’s name was a medium-priced six, within two years the upwardly-mobile automaker had added a lower-priced four, in effect an improved Maxwell, and a high-end model, the E-80 Imperial. Selling for $2,645 to $3,695 for production styles, the Imperial competed directly with the Packard Six and the lower-priced Cadillacs. Chrysler applied distinctive touches to the Imperial to set it apart from other models, including bullet headlights and a scalloped radiator and hood reminiscent of Vauxhall. The engine, while resembling that of the popular G-70, was larger, of Packard proportions, and the wheelbase was stretched nearly eight inches. Six production body styles were offered, along with two long-wheelbase catalog customs, a landaulet and a town car. Model year sales of 9,114 were respectable, though no threat to either rival.

Additional Imperial body styles were introduced in 1927, and in 1928, in addition to production bodies, custom styles from LeBaron, Dietrich and Locke were cataloged on four different wheelbases. Prices of the custom-bodied cars ranged upwards to $6,795. The engine was bored an eighth of an inch, resulting in displacement of 309.3 cubic inches and brake horsepower of 100, 112 with an optional high-compression head.

For 1929, Chrysler Corporation cars were given a “corporate look,” coinciding with the introduction of the new Plymouth and DeSoto marques. Grille shells featured a thin band of chrome around the perimeter, which gave them a lighter, more intricate look. The Imperial’s scallop motif was continued, although with the thinner shell it was less prominent. Imperials were all now on a longer, 136-inch wheelbase. 1930 brought a new four-speed transmission.

In July 1930, Chrysler introduced the Series CG Imperial. A vastly different automobile, it was larger than its predecessor, riding a 145-inch wheelbase. The appearance had been completely transformed to what we now recognize as a classic icon. The radiator shell had become a grille, boldly set out and canted back at a rakish angle. A wire mesh screen defined its forward surface, and a long hood gave extra prominence to the nose. Fenders were given flowing curves, the visual cue replicated in the Duesenberg-like bumpers, and headlights became sleeker. Moreover, the upscale Chryslers had a new heart. In place of the old 309 cubic inch six was an all-new straight eight, the configuration now favored in the industry. Actually, there were no fewer than four different Chrysler eights, but the Imperial got only the largest, a 384.8 cubic inch, nine-main unit making 125 bhp. The Imperial line had been expanded, too. Included were four “production” bodies by Briggs and four cataloged custom styles. In addition, one could order various individual customs for construction on the Imperial chassis. The semi-custom bodies, roadster, coupe, convertible coupe and dual-cowl phaeton, were all furnished by LeBaron.

Waterhouse, Inc.

In many ways, innovations originating in Europe migrated across the ocean, and there is perhaps no better example than this elegant Convertible Victoria. In 1929, a brilliant designer named Alexis de Sakhnoffsky was commissioned by the Belgian firm of Van den Plas to build a special body on a Packard chassis. His bold new design was innovative, combining the virtues of a five passenger coupe with a roadster, producing an extremely elegant open car that offered convertible comfort and seating for five. The car was debuted at the Monte Carlo Concours d’Elegance, where it took the grand prize.

So appealing was the design that Packard decided to commission a similar car for the Paris Auto Salon. With only a few weeks to go, it was a challenge that few coachbuilders could have met. The aggressive young firm of Waterhouse and Company was chosen for the job, and the result was truly striking. The long hood of the 745 chassis was combined with the close coupled new body, and accented with a rakishly angled windshield. The molding treatments that Waterhouse designed were simpler and made the car seem even longer and lower. The top was as low as possible, and incorporated internal landau joints.

More than a copy of Sakhnoffsky’s design, the new Waterhouse convertible Victoria combined the European flair with American style, creating an overnight sensation. At its introduction, Packard President Alvan Macauley was so taken with the design he immediately ordered ten more; these were the first of more than a hundred Waterhouse convertible victorias that would ultimately grace Packard’s senior chassis.

Car no. 7801063

While the vast majority of the Waterhouse Convertible Victorias were mounted on senior Packard chassis, the popularity of the design led to orders from other major manufacturers. A few ended up on Chrysler’s new CG Imperial chassis. According to Chrysler’s build records – a copy of which accompany this sale – this car was delivered to Waterhouse in Webster, MA on October 17, 1930.

No records survive of the original, or very early, owners, however this example is well known among the members of the Classic Car Club. In the fifties or early sixties, the car was owned by Robert Wittenberg from Mequon, WI. The next owner, believed to have been in the sixties or early 1970s, was Darryl Fuchness – who sold the car to Tom Monaghan for his Domino’s Museum in Ann Arbor, MI.

When the Domino’s museum was sold at auction in 1994, this handsome Waterhouse Chrysler was purchased by the late Bud Mick, a well known Ann Arbor collector. Mick kept the car until the early 2000s, when he sold it to noted collector Ethel Lanaux of New Orleans, LA.

Ms. Lanaux commissioned Michigan restorer Bob Ansalone to undertake a comprehensive professional restoration, finishing the car in several shades of aubergine. Upon completion, the car was debuted at Pebble Beach, where it won third in class. An incredible roster of awards followed, including:

2006 - Best in Class - Glenmoor

2006 - Best in Show - Hilton Head

2007 - Artist’s Choice - CCCA Senior Experience, Kalamazoo, MI

2007 - Best of Show - Ault Park, Cincinnati

2007 - CCCA National First Primary - Dearborn, MI

2007 - Best of Show – American - Meadow Brook Hall Concours d’Elegance

2007 - Best of Show - Keeneland Concours, Lexington, KY

2008 - Best in Class - Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance

Finally, on April 17, 2008, the big Chrysler was acquired by John O’Quinn for his growing collection in Houston Texas.

There is little doubt that Chrysler’s CG Imperials are among the best looking chassis of the classic era. Combined with what most believe to be one of the best coachbuilt bodies, the result is truly striking indeed. With its fresh restoration, the car remains in very high point condition today and represents a rare opportunity to acquire a truly outstanding Full Classic.

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

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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

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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

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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

David Swig

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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

Michael Squire

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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