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Lot 504

1970 Cadillac N.A.R.T. Coupe

  • Chassis no. 1486238

Sold for $57,750

Coachwork designed by Luigi Chinetti, Jr., executed by Zagato
400 hp 500 cu. in. overhead valve vee eight-cylinder engine, four-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel independent suspension with torsion bars, four-wheel disc brakes.

In the late Sixties being Ferrari’s US distributor put Luigi Chinetti back in the driver’s seat which he had exited nearly twenty years before after his last Le Mans win. His North American Racing Team attracted the best drivers and had no trouble selling its used, and frequently race-winning, team cars to wealthy clients. From its headquarters in Greenwich, Connecticut the Chinetti organization enjoyed success and admiration.

However, even in these heady times, there was a cloud on the horizon: the certainty of more stringent auto emissions regulations. There also was an apparent reluctance on Ferrari’s part to acknowledge the superiority of mid-engine designs, or at least their attractiveness to potential buyers of high performance limited production automobiles. What part these factors played in the evolution of the 1970 Cadillac N.A.R.T. offered here is only conjecture, but work began in 1969 on an exciting and daringly different four-seat, mid-engined concept which became the 1970 Cadillac N.A.R.T.

Conceived by Luigi Chinetti, Jr., the Cadillac N.A.R.T. was designed to provide Chinetti’s clients with a luxurious, sophisticated, high performance four seat automobile that could be built in limited quantities at a reasonable cost. It was based upon the simple but ingenious concept of relocating the front wheel drive Cadillac Eldorado power train to behind the rear seats to create a mid-engined layout, then using other standard Cadillac assemblies for the front suspension. Carefully packaged and built in limited series by independent coachbuilders in Italy, all of whom were well known to the Chinetti family, it promised to deliver neck-snapping performance in a distinctive package.

Luigi Chinetti, Jr. worked with General Motors in the initial planning and, with GM’s guidance, employed an Art Center graduate to convert the layout and Chinetti’s concept drawings into full size elevations. Following the practice of a major automaker, a full size clay model was then made in GM’s studio. Zagato was chosen to build the prototype from the drawings and clay model. Chinetti provided a Cadillac Eldorado and other parts from which the finished car, offered here for the first time to the public, was constructed.

In addition to the Cadillac Eldorado powertrain, including the torsion bar suspension and disc brakes, the front suspension of the Cadillac N.A.R.T. is from a full size Cadillac, with the giant vented disc brakes needed to arrest a loaded six-passenger Cadillac. All the comfort and convenience features expected by buyers of Cadillacs, or of top of the line Ferraris for that matter, were provided including power steering, power brakes, power windows, climate control air conditioning and an AM-FM signal seeking stereo.

The design communicates its American origins with flared wheel arches that tightly wrap the tires but those cues are countered by other elements of Luigi Chinetti, Jr.’s design. The reverse wrapped rear window is buried deep within the roof’s rear quarters to give adequate access to the mid-located engine and the rear deck is high both to enclose the engine and to give a reasonable amount of luggage capacity for a four-passenger automobile. The side windows drop below the fender tops, giving the driver and passengers great visibility. High visibility also has another aspect: it allows the occupants of this distinctive and rare automobile to be recognized as they pass by in comfort and safety and at speed.

Fitted with pop up headlights over shallow parking lights recessed in the full width grille, from the front there is no mistaking the Cadillac N.A.R.T for anything but the high performance luxury coupé that it is.

After this prototype’s completion it was displayed at the 1971 Turin show by Zagato and a few months later on Chinetti Motors’ stand at the New York International Automobile Show. It was reportedly well received by potential buyers, but Chinetti’s Ferrari business had come to require their full attention and a second prototype for further development work was never built. This is the only example of the Cadillac N.A.R.T. ever built.

It was acquired nearly twenty years ago by the present owner in original, as-displayed condition directly from Luigi Chinetti, Jr. Since then it has had cosmetic attention and consistent care and maintenance.

Concept cars and prototypes are among the most exciting and vibrant area of collecting today but few examples have escaped either the manufacturers’ collections or the crusher. As an example of an extremely rare collaboration among three of the most recognized and respected names in automobiles, Cadillac, Zagato and Chinetti, the Cadillac N.A.R.T. is particularly important and rare.

“Unique” is a word frequently misused when describing collector cars, but in the case of the Cadillac N.A.R.T. it is fully deserved. Whether it is conserved as an artifact of automotive history, advanced concept and design or treated to a concours restoration for the many shows, events and concours where it would be an appreciated participant, this is a unique opportunity to acquire a unique automobile with the combined heritage of Cadillac, Zagato and Luigi Chinetti’s North American Racing Team.

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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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

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Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 9... read more

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

Don Rose

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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

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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

Ian Kelleher

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Jonathan Sierakowski

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Jonathan Sierakowski developed a passion for classic cars while working at a Connecticut restoration shop as a teenager. He graduated with a... 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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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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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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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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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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Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. He att... read more

Peter Wallman

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Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007 following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, where he was based out ... 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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Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more